Over the last few weeks here in our home, we've been watching the 1995 DVD set, "THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY," with our 11-year old son (He's been a fan of the Beatles' music for a few years, now, so he was definitely into the idea of watching the story of their origins, evolution and ending).

Many aspects were striking about watching the anthology today, and revisiting the events that changed the music world forever during The Beatles' brief 10-year reign in the 1960's.

All these years later, the first amazing thing that hit me was how young "the boys" were - ranging in age from 20 to 22 - when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Striking because in 1963, I was 9 years old as I sat mesmerized in front of our black and white TV, and their music, their clothes, their hair couldn't have been cooler or more mature to me. They didn't seem young to me. No. Their rhythms and voices seemed to vibrate through my entire being, while the poetry of their lyrics blew my mind open, even at age nine. Their songs so often made love and life seem like a jubilant thing - "And when I touch you, I feel happy inside. It's such a feeling that my love I can't hide..." - and that materialism wasn't as important as love - "I don't care too much for money, 'cause money can't buy me love."

40 years after their break-up, the Beatles' songs still resonate - to a fifty-something, and to a pre-adolescent, both in the process of finding ourselves on the threshold of a new stage of life. We both lament about the "Nowhere Man" for different reasons. "Isn't he a bit like you and me?"

The Beatles were channeling, that's for sure. The compositions and innovative arrangements were pouring out of them so fast, and the hurricane they created culturally so enormous, that John, Paul, George and Ringo couldn't truly know what was happening. They couldn't. But they rode the wave. That's what greatness is.

Another aspect that was newly clear from my perspective today was that The Beatles had to break up when they did. That's a revelation to me. Back in 1969, I couldn't have been sadder when the group made their last album, "ABBEY ROAD." I couldn't really understand at age 15 why they wouldn't just stay together. A couple of years later, I likewise couldn't understand why my parents couldn't just stay together. There was still a lot I didn't know at age 17.

But here's what I can see now: the four young men evolved and outgrew each other. That was the inevitable result of riding the big wave. They spent several incredible years creating and growing together musically and spiritually, but they were very different individuals, personality-wise, with very different destinies, and so of course, their inclinations as performers and songwriters diverged. They had to keep growing, but as is so often the case in relationships, I've learned, without each other. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles' contemporary rock icons, by contrast, never really changed and never really broke up. They are now the old married couple who've been together for 40 years, still doing the same things with each other that they've always done.

Lennon, at times inclined towards depression and a darker perspective than his writing cohort, McCartney, once said in disdain that the Beatles were just a rock'n'roll band and that their break-up was no big thing. Even back then, I knew John was wrong about that, that he must be bitter and in pain about something. After all, he's the Beatle who wrote "HELP!"

Paul understood better, and when he wrote what would become the group's elegy, it moved me to my core, beginning with "Once there was a way to get back homeward...", implying the irrevocable endings that are thrust upon us in life, and concluding with this most poignant and famous of hopeful last lines: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

I still try to remember that message every day, forty years hence. I hope the eleven year old sitting next to me will also remember it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review - one of my favorite documentaries


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