I ran into Thurston Moore, guitarist for Sonic Youth, at the book party for Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992, an anthology we’re both in. I told him I am beginning an anti-Beatles blog.
"The Beatles are The Beatles," said Thurston, tautologically. Then he added: "There are innovators and popularizers. The Beatles were popularizers."
Few citizens are aware of the hidden messages in Beatles songs. "In My Life," for example, contains the lyrics:
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed;
Some forever not for better;
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living;
In my life I’ve loved the Mall.
No wonder so many teenagers — and their parents! — constantly visit shopping malls. This subliminal suggestion has been embedded in their minds.
My advice: be very cautious when listening to Rubber Soul (and other Beatles CDs)!
The Beatles were hardly a band. I have listened to rare tapes of them playing in Hamburg before they were "discovered" — and I saw a video of their very last performance, in Japan. The music of both was extremely disappointing. I had read for years that the very early Beatles were like savage Punks, raw and fiery. Instead, they sounded like a muddled garage band singing showtunes. The video was even worse.
John Lennon could hardly play the guitar. George was often taught his "guitar solos" by Paul. Ringo was a good drummer, but extremely simplistic.
The Beatles had several talents: they could write songs, and they had gentle, pleasing voices. Also, in the recording studio, Paul was obsessive and brilliant. But they were not really a band; when they played together, there were no surprises. That’s one of the reasons they stopped touring. In the Japan video, Lennon would proudly announce: "This is a new song!" The concert was more like a "songwriters showcase." If bands were known by their live shows, not their albums, The Beatles would be forgotten.
Instead, Paul made a wise business decision — he concentrated on records. In 1967, no one knew for sure whether Rock would become like jazz — a music for improvisation and performance, not discs. Today, groups like The Quicksilver Messenger Service which played fluidly at concerts but made mediocre LPs are footnotes in history.