I love The Beatles.
I was raised in a fairly strict Baptist family and my mother’s kooky friend from a radical religious cult kept sending us comic books that were so conservative you had to pay them to open the pages.
These comic books were great masters of ideology. I seem to recall something about two Christians venturing out into the world doing God’s will. They prayed a lot and cast out demons and that sort of thing.
What I do remember is that the comics put the blame for the social revolution of the 1960s firmly at the feet of The Beatles. And I think that's just awesome. I did back then, too. It was my internal rebellion against God.
I had always liked them when growing up. I didn’t even mind that My Sweet Lord wasn’t talking about Jesus. What a rebel that George Harrison was.
The town I grew up in had one radio station and a playlist that stopped sometime in 1943. What it did have of modern music was stuff like Bobbie Gentry and certain slower numbers by Carole King. When it finally got hold of McCartney’s sentimental dirge Mull of Kintyre it went on high rotation for about three years.
But that was about as close as it dared get to The Beatles.
When I was 17 I finally bought a Beatles’ greatest hits tape. All the tracks I had heard from time-to-time and never knew who did them suddenly had a common name. I was instantly in awe.
I bought books and other best-ofs. I listened to Hey Jude every morning while getting dressed for over a year.
I determined that I liked mostly what came after Revolver, yet the first actual Beatles album I owned was Rubber Soul – bought second hand off a guy who was moving to Canada.
Then, about a year ago, a photographer friend at work gave me a DVD. I put it in the computer and discovered it contained every single Beatles album ever made. Including the three Anthologies and Let it Be… Naked.
Suddenly I was able to put everything in perspective. And there were some memorable moments. Such as when a mellow guitar slide in You Never Give Me Your Money on Abbey Road took me straight and vividly back to me as a four-year-old hanging out in the family lounge with my eldest sister’s friends.
Me and music have that sort of relationship.
But when you look at The Beatles you can see their music – although fantastic – wasn’t the entire source of their fame. The early Beatles flourished largely on the back of Brian Epstein’s marketing abilities. Their personalities and music obviously gave him a fantastic product to market; but it was because he marketed them so well that they succeeded so incredibly.
And I guess that’s why, 40 years later, their music still sounds fresh. And why they can market a Beatles Rock Band electronic game and why they anticipate it will sell millions upon millions of copies. Not to mention introducing a whole new generation to the music of the Fab Four.
So, welcome back John, Paul, George and The One With The Big Nose (who no longer answers fan mail, apparently).