By Elvis Costello
I heard it for the first time.beatlesWhen I was nine years old. I spent most of my holidays in Merseyside at the time and had a bad publicity photo of them taken by a local girl with their names on the back.
That was in 1962 or 63 before they came to the United States. The photo was poorly lit and they were not looking down; Ringo had combed his hair back slightly, as if he still wasn't quite convinced of the Beatles' hairstyle.
I did not care; They were the band for me. The funny thing is that the parents and all their friends from Liverpool were also curious and proud of this local group. Before that, everyone in show business in the North of England was a comedian. The Beatles even recorded for Parlophone, which was a comedy label, like they thought they might be a fad.
I was just old enough to get hit hard by them. My experience – getting all the takes, saving money on singles and EPs, seeing them on the local news – has been repeated over and over again around the world. It wasn't the first time something like this had happened, but the Beatles achieved a level of fame and recognition previously known only to Charlie Chaplin, Brigitte Bardot and Elvis Presley, along with the airless exclusivity of astronauts, former presidents and others. heavyweight champions.
Every record was a shock. Compared to fanatical R&B evangelists like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles came and sounded like nothing else. They had already recorded Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry, but they also wrote their own songs. You have made writing your own material more exceptional than expected.
miJohn LennonmiPablo McCartneythey were exceptional composers; McCartney was and is a truly virtuoso musician;George HarrisonI wasn't the type of guitar player to play wild, unpredictable solos, but you can sing along with the songs from almost any of their breaks. More importantly, they always fit the arrangement exactly.Ringo Starrhe played the drums with an incredibly unique feel that no one can duplicate, although many good drummers have tried and failed. Above all, John and Paul were fantastic singers.
Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison all had surprisingly high standards as writers. Imagine releasing a song like "Ask Me Why" or "Things We Said Today" as a B-side. They made fantastic records like "Paperback Writer" b/w "Rain" or "Penny Lane" b/w "Strawberry Fields Forever." and released them only as singles. These records were events and not just an album announcement. Then they really grew: simple love lyrics to adult stories like "Norwegian Wood," which explored the bitter side of love and bigger ideas than you'd expect in catchy pop lyrics.
They were the first group to play with the acoustic perspective of their recordings and make it more than just a gimmick. Engineers like Geoff Emerick invented techniques we now take for granted in response to the imagination of the group. Before the Beatles, there were guys in lab coats doing recording experiments, but there were no rockers deliberately throwing things off balance, like a low voice before a strong song on "Strawberry Fields Forever." The license this gave everyone from Motown to Jimi Hendrix cannot be overstated.
My absolute favorite albums aredrunken soulmiRevolver.On both records you hear references to other music - R&B, Dylan, Psychedelia - but it's not done in an obvious or old-fashioned way. when you answeredRevolverYou knew it was something else. Hell, in the back cover picture they are wearing sunglasses inside and not even looking at the camera. . . and the music was so strange and at the same time so happy. If I had to pick a favorite song from those albums, it would be "And Your Bird Can Sing." . . not a girl" . . . no, "for anyone" . . and so on, and so on . . .
your breakup album,I let be, contains beautiful and irregular songs. I guess ambition and human frailty seep into any band, but they turn into incredible performances. I remember going to Leicester Square and seeing the film.I let be1970. I came out of melancholy.
Someone recently gave me a collection of news footage showing how quickly the band was stripped of the bright, happy-go-lucky wit they presented as the public face.
In an opening sequence, McCartney tells reporters that they will show up soon.Ed-Sullivan-Show diesand then points to the camera: "There you are, hello, Ed and Mrs. Ed" - "and Mr. Ed," says Ringo. It may have been practiced, but it's completely improvised.
Just a year later, they are seen at a press conference in Los Angeles for their final tour. Suits and ties are a thing of the past. You are faced with a series of grim taunts from the press and you look exhausted and disillusioned.
When examined by an exhibitionist to answer a questionTempomagazine criticized that "Day Tripper" was about a prostitute and "Norwegian Wood" about a lesbian, McCartney responds: "We were just trying to write songs about prostitutes and lesbians." They gave the impression that the game was over, but in reality it was just beginning.
The word "Beatlesque" has been in the dictionary for some time. You hear them in Harry Nilsson's songs; in the princeAround the world in one day; in the hits of ELO and Crowded House and in the ballads of Ron Sexsmith. It is heard that Kurt Cobain listened to the Beatles and mixed his ideas with punk and metal. You can be heard on all kinds of one-off wonders, from the Knickerbockers' "Lies" to the Flamin' Groovies' "Shake Some Action." The White Album's scope and license allowed everyone from OutKast to Radiohead to Green Day to Joanna Newsom to develop their image on a broader, bolder canvas.
Well, I admit I stole my share of Beatles licks, but in the late '90s I co-wrote 12 songs with Paul McCartney and even dared to suggest that he referenced some of the Beatles licks as well. harmonic signatures: how amazingly he developed another musical vocabulary for Wings and throughout his solo career.
In 1999, shortly after Linda McCartney's death, Paul performed at Chrissie Hynde's Concert for Linda. During rehearsal, I sang harmonies with him to a Ricky Nelson song, and Paul yelled out the next song: "All My Loving."
I said, "Would you like me to do the harmony line a second time?" And he said, "Yeah, try it." He was only 35 years old to learn the role. Inevitably, there was a poignant emotion in this song, written long before he met Linda:
close your eyes and i will kiss you
I will miss you tomorrow
Remember that I will always be faithful.
On the show it was very different. When Paul sang the opening lines, the audience's reaction was so violent that it nearly drowned out the music. It was very exciting, but also disturbing.
Perhaps at that moment I understood one of the reasons why the Beatles stopped performing. The songs were no longer his. They belonged to everyone.
This is an updated version of an essay published in RS 946. It was originally published in September 2011.