The music had a beat, it had harmony, it had catchy lyrics. We were sixteen, seventeen and we danced to the music at sock hops and mixers. But then photos of the singers, The Beatles, made their way across the pond. The photos ignited a firestorm of worship among teen girls. If many of us had once loved Elvis, we now were dying to see the four British mop-heads and the fan numbers eclipsed anything ever known before. From October of 1962 to October of 1969 the band sold over 150 million albums and 450 million records worldwide.
Paul and John, George and Ringo. They were not just an ordinary British band–they were singer-songwriters who broke into new territory with every album they released. Fans waited in anticipation, knowing that they would be blow away by something totally new, downright lyrical, inventive and sometimes even jocular and funny.
Who can forget The Magical Mystery Tour (Fool on the Hill, Penny Lane, All You Need Is Love) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, A Little Help from My Friends)? This creativity proclaimed a whole new way of thinking about an album. The songs held up as amazing single hits, but also blended together to tell a story, create an atmosphere, and deliver one wonderful message after another.
At our house, we waited eagerly for each new album to be issued. When that happened, in a matter of days we could sing every song, had partaken of long discussions about the musical arrangement and outlined what new ground had been broken. We talked about the meaning of the lyrics, feeling that some of the songs were tone poems and we argued and discussed the multiple messages in Fixing a Hole, Carry That Weight, Eleanor Rigby, Lady Madonna, I Am The Walrus and Savoy Truffle.
And while they were creating one amazing album after another the Beatles had great fun with their music. On Abbey Road they created a medley that sometimes promised a story line and sometimes brought the music and lyrics to comical heights: Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Golden Slumbers, Carry that Weight and Her Majesty.
Sadly, the Beatles broke up in 1970. John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono has always been labeled as a major cause of the band’s disintegration. Brilliant and edgy, Lennon could write a song, but for reasons many critics could not comprehend, he thought Yoko to be terribly talented in many areas–music and art among them. Lennon continued to compose until he was shot on Dec. 8, 1980 by Mark David Chapman in front of the Dakota building in New York City where he was living. He died later that evening.
Paul McCartney went on to make solo albums with a new band Wings and his first wife, Linda Eastman. Through the years he has collaborated with other artists like Stevie Wonder and has continued to write in the pop, rock and classical genres. His song Yesterday has been covered by more than 2, 200 artists. He is still writing and composing today.
George Harrison also had his solo career writing songs that topped the charts like My Sweet Lord, Give Me Love, Give Me Peace and albums All Things Must Pass and Living in the Material World. He developed brain and lung cancer and at the end of his life enjoyed gardening at his home outside London. He died in LA in 2001.
Ringo Starr had a hit album Ringo in 1973. His incredible skill on the drums has influenced many other musicians. He has traveled with Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band and played the Conductor on PBS’s Shining Time Station.
The Beatles created so many melodic songs, incredible medleys and memorable lyrics that it would take pages for me to list my favorites. But I will mention one and post a You Tube of it here. It was the last song McCartney worked on for the final Beatle album LET IT BE. In the end, he didn’t like the way it was produced, but its lyric, melody and overall creative blend has to be at the top of my list. Such Beatle contributions will live on, as we keep up the beat with the Beatles.
Thanks to Google Images