Elster's World

Thursday, December 08, 2005

So I Sing this Song of Love for...The Beatles

I interrupt the literay entry I was going to finish and post today (and will eventually get to) to bring you a bit of (non-jewish) musical history.

It was twenty-five years ago today.... that Mark Davis Chapman, a deranged fan, shot and killed John Lennon in front of The Dakota in New York City. People all over the worlld will mark this somber anniversay. In New York, thousands will gather to celebrate Lennon's life and music, so closely connected to The Beatles, and his solo career, tied to his wife Yoko Ono.

I am not here to sing the praises of John Lennon. I have read that he was egomaniacle (which I believe) and that he had let his fame go to his head. But he was also a richly talented singer/songwriter and above average musician, who combined with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey (better known to you non-musies as Ringo Starr) to form the what is arguably the greatest band of all time.

The Beatles were also the springboard off of which which everything followed. There would be no Pink Floyd, no Zeppelin, heck not even Brittany Spears, at least not as we know them today, without these great forefathers of rock and roll. They combined beautiful lyrics with stunning harmonies to create music that is timeless. Let's face it, their music stands up as well today as it did back in 1966. That is quite an accomplishment in our ever-changing musical world.

Most people (even those who hate that old rock n' roll) can sing the lyrics to classics like Help, She Loves You and I Saw Her Standing There, much like my dad (who I never ever once saw or heard listening to any non-jewish music) is able to quote lines from Simon and Garfunkle's Sounds of Silence. But they fundamentally shifted from male pop-tarts to more serious musicians in Rubber Soul and even clearly embraced the dark side of drugs with Revolver (and the stunning Tomorrow Never Knows). Revolver, Sgt. Peppers, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album, Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road is an absolute murderer's row of great music (well, maybe not Yellow Submarine). Listen to any top 1,000 rock and roll songs and count the Beatle tunes that come in.

Far be it for me to critique these masterpieces. I would only say that Abbey Road is probably my favorite album (side B is unparalleled) and the White Album represents the fab Four at their most raw. They were a perfectionist band who release only one technically "imperfect" White Album. Remember, this was a band that did over fifty takes of Strawberry Fields Forever.

They also had a real sense of humor, as can be more clearly seen on easily obtainable bootlegs and on the recently release Anthology stuff (Volume III is great). Paul McCartney laughing his way through Rocky Raccon is a real treat, as is John Lennon bemoaning a guitar screw up in an otherwise "perfect" version of Julia.

I recently downloaded a number of their discs onto the ipod. What a treat. What a band. And the funny thing is, it didn't take the brutal murder/drug overdose/suicide of one of their members to make people realize how great they were. The Beatles had already been broken up when Lennom was murdered. People recognized their greatness while it was happening, an extreme rarity in our times in any genre.

I could go on an on. Believe me, I could just be getting warmed up. I could tell you how a buddy in high school dubbed all of the albums onto tape for me and how I would fall asleep every night with them in my ear (much how I fell asleep every night of my freshman year of college to The Wall). But I think I've said enough.

So, I sing this song of love. Not for Julia, as Lennon once did, but for the Beatles. For what they represented and for everything that followed (most of it good, some of it really really bad). And for you fogies out there who will one day be telling your kids to "turn down that crap", remember, your parents were once scowling at that Beatles/Stones/Floys/Zeppelin/Allman Brothers/Duran Duran/Brittney Spears/Etc album you used to listen to also.


  • So we have the Beatles to thank for Britney Spears?! My dad also can quote lines from "The Sound Of Silence". Must be a that-generation dad thing. Very nice tribute. Would love to see you do more of these - maybe pick a different band once a month....

    Which are your 5 favorite Beatles songs?

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 6:32 PM  

  • hmmmm - Off the top of my head and with no research and in no particular order:

    1. Because (maybe greatest harmony ever

    2. Something

    3. Tomorrow Never Knows

    4. Mother Nature's Son

    5. Let it Be.

    Subject to Change (many many times).

    And yes, a band a week I can do.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:31 PM  

  • Interesting choice Elster. I like what you say about Subject to Change - The Beatles' output was just so vast and so varied that my favourites always change. But, can I offer my five favourites - as of today and the mood I'm in now?Tomorrow, I'll feel differently.

    1. She's leaving home.

    2. The Long and Winding Road.

    3. Things We Said Today

    4. I'll Follow The Sun

    5. Your Mother Should Know

    By Blogger R.x, at 10:52 AM  

  • Nice list. - I would put the stripped down, non-instrumental version of the Long and Winding Road up there. It was the way McCartney wanted it. he always hated the violin strings that Phil Spector added to that song.

    I used to love sh'es leaving home when I was younger. As for your list in general, you seem to be a bigger early Beatles fan and I am a later beatles fan.

    Nice list though and thanks for commenting.

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:44 AM  

  • No one mentioned Yesterday?
    That song is pure genius..

    btw..I'm enjoying your blog..alot..


    By Blogger David_on_the_Lake, at 3:41 PM  

  • I'm a bit late on this because I just came across this blog. But as I am a big Beatles fan, here's my top five.
    2.In My Life
    3.Ticket to Ride
    4.Come Together
    5.Hey Jude

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 12:18 PM  

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