and with a love like that

4/24/06

The curious thing about legally downloaded music is that the best band in the history of rock and roll is not represented. That, however, is going to change: The Beatles will be coming to your mp3 player through some means in the next few months, and if they’re smart, they’ll do it through iTunes (no matter how the lawsuit turns out). It’s hard to imagine it took this long, but the Beatles’ old engineer Neil Aspinall plans to remaster the whole catalog and give it a go.

I’m not sure how much more remastering is necessary – I thought they did a pretty great job with the CDs released in the late ’80s, and unless they plan to completely change certain albums (like they did with “Let it Be”), I’m sure it’s just their way of gilding the calla lily.

But here’s the thing: it means the Beatles will now be easily accessed by hundreds of millions of teenagers about to start bands, and that is good news for anyone still looking for some new songsmiths to kick our asses once more. Sure, they could go to a record store and get “Magical Mystery Tour” for themselves, but does anyone go to record stores anymore for anything but movies? And if our hip teens are indeed going to a store, how much would you have to pay them to find “Sgt. Pepper” in between some records by Bread and Bachman Turner Overdrive?

I’m never going to be the kind of adult – or father – that thinks today’s kids need a good kick in the pants. What they do need, however, is to listen to “Rubber Soul,” and often. I may have been a loveless dork in junior high school, but I didn’t need girls: I had the Beatles (only 20 years after everyone else had them). My brother Kent got me “Revolver” for my 12th birthday, and that began an obsession that was only slightly tempered by my love for XTC (this blog’s namesake).

I still dream of getting on “Jeopardy” and having “The Beatles” as a category, because I would wipe the FLOOR with my opponents. I knew (and still know) every last detail about every recording, bootleg, chord change, alternate lyric and genesis behind every note John, Paul, George and Ringo ever played. Obsessive? Sure, but we all need our religions.

I can’t imagine a world without “She Said,” “Fixing a Hole,” “Martha My Dear,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” and the second side of “Abbey Road.” My brother Kent says he doesn’t play the albums anymore, because he can just put them on in his head, complete with the old scratches. I still whip them out in the barn when I want a project to go swimmingly.

All I can hope is that there are a cadre of soul-searching 14-year-olds who will download “Day Tripper” or “Fool on the Hill” this summer and have the same reaction I did: staring into middle distance, finally having been spoken to.

IanSelfPortraitVenice4(bl).jpg

coincidentally, my hair has lengthened to Lennon circa 1966 proportions

0 thoughts on “and with a love like that

  1. Matt

    Is there really anyone left who hasn’t already downloaded the entire Beatles catalog through Kazaa, LimeWire or Napster?

    Reply
  2. LFMD

    My daughter is nearly 7, and she LOVES the Beatles! It started out with Yellow Submarine, and we branched out from there.
    And, you totally have the Lennon look down!

    Reply
  3. kent

    Teens have been able to download Beatles for years — just not legally, which is the Beatles’ loss.
    I still have my Rubber Soul I purchased at Gemco, in 1966. I got the Mono version because it was $2 less than the stereo version.
    I’m not sure it’s even necessary to listen to a Beatles CD for me any more — I own nearly the entire catalog, but I haven’t actually listened to any Beatles CDs in years. If I want to hear a song, I can press the imaginary ‘play’ button, and pretty much hear all the lyrics, melody and arrangement.
    I don’t think the Beatles were being sticks in the mud about downloading, but given that they’re wealthy to begin with, they aren’t motivated by making more money, and they respect the material enough to stand back and wait until they can do it their way.

    Reply
  4. the other Lee

    this is great news. Now if we can get the youth to start downloading Velvet Underground as well we will be on to something. And for goodness sake, keep them away from Journey!!

    Reply
  5. Bozoette Mary

    Rubber Soul is my favorite Beatles album, closely followed by the White Album. They hit the US when I was in sixth grade (yes, I’m THAT old). Like every other 12-year old girl, I took instamatic snapshots of the TV screen when they first appeared on Ed Sullivan. The first album I bought was their second album — “Meet the Beatles” was already sold out so I had to wait a couple of weeks before I could get that one!

    Reply
  6. Anne D.

    Lennon and McCartney will go down as one of the great melody-writing teams in musical history.
    I recall the first time I heard “Eleanor Rigby” on the radio, I started crying. It seemed then like the most poignant, sad song I’d ever heard.
    When Beatlemania arrived in the U.S.,I was a 13 year old geek, and I fell hard for the Fab Four. What a delightful and adorable musical entrée to fullblown adolescence they were for me! I swooned, sighed, and fantasized for years.

    Reply
  7. NOLA cathie

    The first time I realized for sure there must be a heaven was September 16, 1964 when the Beatles came to City Park stadium in New Orleans and changed a 15-year-old girl’s life forever. I cannot count the hours I spent staring at Beatle album covers (I have them all), dreaming of John Lennon while their songs played over and over and over again. There was not one second of my teenage years that wasn’t interwoven with Beatles’ music and lyrics – O such sweet innocence!
    And now when 10-month-old granddaughter Lucy gets a little cranky, we sit in front of the computer listening to “Rubber Soul” watching the psychedelic graphics on iTunes. She is already captivated.

    Reply
  8. Joe

    Ian, you know that the Beatles have been a lifelong obsession for me, as well. I have every note they ever played – bootleg and official – permanently downloaded onto my internal hard drive. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without their music; anything else I say on this will sound just as trite, and it’s all been said before and probably better, but Lennon’s 1966 “bigger than Jesus” comments weren’t entirely off-base.
    As an aside, the best example I ever heard of their impact comes via your old friend Julie (nee Bowers). We were at her house on Lindsey Street in Carrboro – Ian, I think you were there – watching 90210 or Melrose Place (for laughs, of *course*), and Julie pulled out a question card from some Trivial Pursuit-type game (I don’t remember the actual name, maybe someone here will recognize it) and said, I think this should belong to you” or something to that effect.
    It read (in paraphrase):
    Pretend You Are a Man (insert snicker here, especially if you know me personally)
    The most important and influential figure in your life has been:
    A. Your Father
    B. Your high school athletic coach
    C. Your favorite teacher
    D. The Beatles
    You know who *I* picked. I still have that card on the recording console in my studio; I look at it every time I hit the little red button, hoping for some good musical karma.
    – Joe

    Reply
  9. TDSUNC92

    i know that this is going to be met with calls for my head, but i just don’t get what the BIG DEAL is with the beatles. note, i did not say that i didn’t enjoy some of their songs; i do. but the whole cult thing fans have got going on with them is, to me, is a wee bit confusing, scary even. in some strange quarters, or corners, or whatever, saying that the stones or any other band tops the beatles is worse than calling someone’s sainted mum a ho – people take it that seriously. i know this because i have had such conversations. i mean, folks start pulling out quotes from songs and amounts of #1 records and all of that stuff and start screaming “how can you not think they’re the BEST BAND EVER!!!!!!!!” craziness, i tell you. then again, i think it’s crazy to put celebrities be they musician, athletes, etc. on any kind of pedestal. i happen to think the stones have it all over the beatles and they’re not even my favorite band, but i let people who disagree have and spout their opinions otherwise without fretting and issuing threats of bodily harm. and before any of you come with the millions of fans can’t be wrong argument, let me remind you who got re-elected in 2004 and say, “of COURSE, they can!”

    Reply
  10. Jason Savage

    i second TDSUNC92. as staggeringly good as the Beatles were, i prefer the Stones. for me, nothing tops the run of beggars banquet, let it bleeed, sticky fingers and exile.

    Reply
  11. Sean

    As a guy who writes music basically every day of my life, The Beatles do for me what they do for Joe. It’s an unfortunate group of songwriters to hold in front of you as a paragon, because you can spend a lot of time feeling like your music doesn’t add up. The music is complex, but never overly so, there is never an obnoxious change or an awkward melody line, they are never reaching, but they are always above everything else.
    I write musical theater music, and the modern musical has to have an understanding of rock and pop. But my songwriting is still informed by Irving Berlin, Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, Etc.. The Beatles music is the bridge the connects the music of the 20s and 30s with Elvis, rockabilly and blues, and extends that bridge deep past where we are now, informing everything from Michael Jackson to Nirvana to Outkast.
    And thanks to their new presence on the web, they are gonna inspire the ten year olds right now to take the bridge into their fifties and sixties. We will have another group of musicians that are this important, but it hasn’t happened since, and it might take until that ten year old is an old man.
    The Stones are just not that important to people who make music. I mean, they might be inspiring a person who writes way better music than me, I’m not the barometer, but I don’t know anyone who writes music that is inspired by the Stones.

    Reply
  12. Ian

    You have to look at what the Beatles created out of whole cloth. They single-handedly erased and re-wrote the history of pop music. In 1963, America was listening to Perry Como and Jan & Dean. They came along and basically invented the pop song structure we know today (with help from Gershwin and Carl Perkins). The Stones, as much as I understand the appeal, couldn’t hold the Beatles’ jock.
    As for teens downloading, having an official online catalog will make it a lot EASIER for kids to get the music. ITunes is so simple, one touch and you’ve got “Revolver,” making it the kind of impulse purchase that doesn’t happen on Kazaa or Limewire (where you have to be looking for it in the first place).

    Reply
  13. Bud

    Sean puts it well.
    All I can add is that several bands might be better *rock and roll acts* than the Beatles, but in terms of songwriting/musicality, no one else in rock history comes close.
    I think for a lot of people, Beatlemania (& lasting obsession) springs more from their cultural impact, and unless you lived through that era (I didn’t), I think that’s hard to understand just how huge their impact was/is.
    For me, it’s always been about the music. Music is bigger than just rock-n-roll, and so are the Beatles.

    Reply
  14. Joanna

    My son survived his first teary-eyed car trips to preschool with Good Day Sunshine. He loves that and Yellow Submarine. Life will really be good when he stops demanding that I skip She Said. And I challenge any mind-altered person to listen to Because and ever be the same again.
    Hey- I’m a day late – Did anyone find any green power info for NC? Gracias, Ian, for the tip.

    Reply
  15. ken

    Here’a Beatles tip that can start Lucy (and all other wee ones) off on the right foot. Jason Falkner (a skilled pop craftsman in his own right) has recorded an instrumental album of Beatles called “Bedtime With The Beatles”
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005R62U/sr=1-1/qid=1145990799/ref=sr_1_1/104-7866286-3234347?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=music
    It even comes with a Pink or Blue Cover. We don’t have kids but when we have nieces or nephews staying with us it works like a charm.
    I’m just waiting for that idiot who posts here (like the guy who killed Lennon, we shant invoke his name) to comment about how we’re all just a bunch of hedonist hippies because we like that long-haired Beatles band.

    Reply
  16. xuxE

    i don’t want to go and rain on the beatles parade, but i think they only redefined what WHITE america was listening to…
    i wasn’t born with beatles obsession gene – just does not compute for me. but i feel for you, because i was born with the prince obsession gene. so i can dig it, everybody needs a thrill.

    Reply
  17. kent

    The big deal about the Beatles is that if you were around for the 60’s, they were in the right place at thet the right time. They were initially a huge craze, but you wouldn’t still have been talking about them in 1965 if they weren’t just plain good.
    I can break it down musicologically on any Beatle’s song about why they’re so great, but not in this forum. Certainly they had contemporaries that were just as good in their own way, but they were quite simply a phenomenon all their own — they were popular, but they were also artistically near perfect. They were so popular that they inverted the pop dialectic — instead of pandering to popular tastes, they experimented, and people enlarged their idea of what music was to accomodate their experiments.
    They were also incredibly artful thieves — they appropriated from black rhythm and blues, tin pan alley and british music hall, taking the bits that worked together and leaving the parts that sounded corny or dated.
    Their songs have that rare quality of existing outside of time — aside from a few early songs, there’s nothing in their canon that doesn’t sound completely modern.
    Of course if you grew up never hearing the Beatles, and then sat down and listened to their music you might think “what’s so special about this?” But that’s because every aspect of their music has been thoroughly copied and subsumed into pop music — they’ve acquired a sort of ‘generic’ quality over time, because they were the template for loads of music in the last four years.

    Reply
  18. Scott K.

    Interestingly enough, I was trying to purchase some Beatles songs last weekend and realized that iTunes only had two or three albums available. I am excited to hear the news of the day and, trademark litigation aside, I am hopeful the whole Beatles anthology will find its way to iTunes’ shelves soon.
    Not to call anyone out, but is Matt suggesting the illegal downloading of copyrighted material? Everyone’s entitled to their position on the Copyright Act (just as they are with the Patriot Act), but I would’ve pegged Matt as a copyright hardliner.

    Reply
  19. kent

    xuxE, I think the Beatles definitely were almost as influential with non-white audiences as they were with white folks.
    The most successful black music at the time of the Beatles popularity was Motown, and Motown artists were definitely affected by the Beatles. They covered Beatles songs, and were influenced by the Beatles’ harmonic strategies. An album like “What’s Going On” wouldn’t have been possible before “Sergeant Peppers.” Jimi Hendrix was a fan.
    And while America may be better integrated and less racist than it was in the 60s, radio has gotten more segregated. If you listened to pop radio in the 60s you would hear _all_ sorts of music mashed together — Beatles, Supremes, Stones, Doors, Wilson Pickett, Tammy Wynette, etc. Now, the divide between what gets played on “Urban Contemporary” stations has very little crossover with “Modern Rock” stations.
    And if you can’t see how big the Beatles were to Prince, go back and listen to Rasberry Beret.

    Reply
  20. TDSUNC92

    “The most successful black music at the time of the Beatles popularity was Motown, and Motown artists were definitely affected by the Beatles (MAYBE). They covered Beatles songs, and were influenced by the Beatles’ harmonic strategies (NOT AS MUCH AS THE OTHER WAY AROUND; WAY TOO MUCH HARMONY OUT THERE BEFORE THAT WAS JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER). An album like “What’s Going On” wouldn’t have been possible before “Sergeant Peppers. (GMAFB!!!))” Jimi Hendrix was a fan (OK).”
    In sum, I think that it would actually be more accurate to say that the beatles and folks at motown, and stax, for that matter, were definitely affected by other artists prior to both whose music was stolen/copied by both, or that motown/stax influenced the beatles), but die-hard beatles fans are loathe to admit that they didn’t set the sun in the sky.
    and that, my friends, is precisely why it’s true that the stones can’t hold the beatles’ jocks: how could they possibly get near with all y’all around?! (just jokes, guys, but damn, could you let sir paul’anem breathe?)

    Reply
  21. xuxE

    kent i think you are trippin, or maybe day-trippin.
    compare the influence james brown, stevie wonder, diana ross, the righteous brothers, or any other of the countless amazing non-white 1960’s beatles contemporaries on their non-white audience and i think it’s easy to see that the beatles of course had a some crossover impact there, but nowhere near the impact they had on their own white audience.
    i think the impact or the beatles legacy on non-white artists is way less significant. the non-white artists were on a different path. for example, those artists didn’t have to get any blues influence by way of the beatles re-packaging because they were already tapped into it. that’s not to say that the beatles weren’t great songwriters or anything, but not the same revolutionary force for the non-white artists.
    and i would even argue that the impact of those same non-white beatles contemporaries i mentioned is equal if not stronger influence on today’s artists.
    i agree on the modern radio format which is segregated for completely different reasons.
    but anyway, a prince vs. beatles debate makes no sense to me. raspberry beret? puh-lease. i’m just saying i don’t like the beatles but i do understand and respect the irrational obsession thing.

    Reply
  22. Sean

    Just so you know, the only other obsession I’ve ever had musically was Prince. I have been transported and inspired by only two modern musicians, Prince and The Beatles.
    There is no way you can think that Prince wasn’t influenced *heavily* by The Beatles. People compared him to Hendrix, but, only because of the skin similarities, musically Prince is the next step from The Beatles to Whatever’s next.
    The difference is that The Beatles never made the same mistakes and missteps that Prince did. Prince, on the other hand, has gotten to make music for longer, so he’s had more chances to screw up.
    Fortunately, there is room at the top for all kinds of greatness.

    Reply
  23. badbob

    I was in 6th grade when they were on the Ed Sullivan show.
    Are those old vinyl albums worth anything? Some are a little warped from an old radio shack turntable and may have Boones Farms/MD20-20 stains. How about 8-track versions. Just kidding. My 8 tracks never made it out of the 70’s!
    B2

    Reply
  24. Beth

    Just in case anyone else isn’t up on their acronyms, “GMAFB” means “give me a fucking break.” (I had to Google it. Learn something new every day.)

    Reply
  25. oliver

    I would obsess about the Beatles except I wouldn’t know how to distinguish my obsession from what’s going on with all those people who make pilgrimage to Graceland and worship Elvis. It’s too important to me to think I’m better than them.

    Reply
  26. TDSUNC92

    not for nothing, but i had to add this in light of the whole mess with the 19yo harvard “writer” who claims to have unconsciuosly internalized whole passages from the work of another “writer.” apparently, not even the beatles (or their former members) are immune to this phenomenom. i’m just saying …
    http://www.benedict.com/Audio/harrison/harrison.aspx
    anyways … i’m thinking of writing a novel so that i can look good on my medical school applications. i think i’ll call it, “gone with the breeze.” and it’ll have two main characters named scarla and brett, and it’ll take place on a plantation known as “farrah” in the fictional state of “between south carolina and florida.” ian, you might wanna get in on this before spielberg does; it’s gonna be HUGE!!!!!

    Reply

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