Monday, March 03, 2008
Hah, no, just kidding. They were a wonderful band.
I feel guilty writing about the Beatles. Like almost everybody else who has written a word about them, I feel as if I can't say anything about them that hasn't been said. I am compelled to, however, because I very recently watched the film "Across The Universe" and I did not like it. At all. It's a movie that takes all of those wonderful, wonderful Beatles songs we all know and love and uses them to string together a hackneyed, boring plot about a Liverpudlian named Jude (HURR) moving to America, becoming friends with a frat boy named Max (well's silver hammer HURR) and his phoned-in love-interest sister Lucy (in the sky with diamonds HURRRRR) while they encounter a vast array of broad 60's cliches (Max is drafted! Lucy joins up with violent revolutionaries! Jude goes on a psychedelic drug trip with Bono!!). They all pontificate their feelings by singing Beatles songs to themselves at random intervals, mostly by slowing them down to make them real emotional and heartfelt and all that shit. Once the Asian lesbian cheerleader named Prudence (HAHRUARUAURHRR) shows up and locks herself in a closet (GUESS WHICH SONG THEY SING?), you start to realize that you're basically watching "Rent" with Beatles songs thrown in.
This has been a sad trend in recent years - cover a bunch of Beatles songs in a "cool", "modern" way and see the cash roll in. There was that shitty indie tribute to Rubber Soul, or the entire I Am Sam soundtrack, or that crappy John Lennon musical. I'm willing to give the Instant Karma compilation a free pass, since it's for a good cause and all that, and it's just John Lennon's solo stuff, but the music is still terrible (Black Eyed Peas doing "Power to the People", AWESOME) and it promotes the whole "peace and love" Beatles image that just comes across as fake-hippie bullshit nowadays. I guess I can also give a pass to Love because it comes straight from the source, but it still feels like a wasted opportunity to me. Honestly, George Martin and his cohorts are probably the ONLY people in the world who would have a chance to remix the Beatles LEGALLY, without any contest, and given this huge fucking opportunity they barely did anything with the music except for a really cool mix of "Drive My Car" and "What You're Doing." Also the album's for Cirque du Soleil, so again the Beatles are lent to overblown theatricality.
It's a trap, though! If you ever register your disgust in some half-assed Beatles "tribute" you'll always have people saying, "Well, jeez, it's the BEATLES! You love the Beatles, right? Then you must like it!" It's a bargaining chip. No matter how shitty a Beatles tribute is, it still has Beatles music in it, so I'm guilted into liking it on some level. But it just doesn't work that way - anything can be ruined, even the most wonderful music in the world. It depends on the circumstances; if I hear a bunch of shitty musicians singing "Across the Universe" at the Grammys, I'm probably going to think about it whenever I listen to the original song and it will just... hurt.
Is it a personal thing? Well, yes. I love the Beatles. I got into them when I was 16 after listening to my parents' copy of "Beatles 1", and I never looked back. It was kind of a weird time for me - see, I'd recently stopped attending church, and I had this fear about what was going to happen to me when I died. I feared Hell, if it existed, and I didn't want to go there. I don't know why I felt this way - my church wasn't a very dogmatic one, and I hadn't been much of a dedicated Christian for years, but I was very unsure of what was out there. Listening to the Beatles, though, made me feel good, like I had nothing to be afraid of. Songs like "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be" made me cry just to hear them, and they still do. They fuckin' changed my life, no doubt about it. Without them I would not love music half as much as I do now. I mean, there have been many many bands that I have fallen in love with over the years, but none of them have affected me quite like the Beatles did - no matter how much of a cynical jackass I have become, my love for them has never waned.
I mean, the fact that the Beatles are still so universally beloved and revered almost half a century later is a testament to how great they were. Their songs are so good that almost everybody loves them, cherishes them; I can talk the Beatles with my parents, and I barely ever talk music - period - with my parents. But it's a double-edged sword; since it's so accessible and beloved, everybody is open to use the Beatles' music for whatever means they wish, which leads to a lot of shitty tributes and lame misinterpretations of "I Am The Walrus" (THE SONG IS A FUCKING JOKE SONG, LENNON WAS MAKING FUN OF BOB DYLAN, STOP THINKING IT'S SOME COOL PSYCHEDELIC MESSAGE). And no matter how crappy they are, there will always be an audience of Beatles faithful willing to lap it up. I guess I have to accept that fact that, since there are so many goddamn Beatles fans out there, a lot of them love the Beatles for completely different reasons than myself. Hell, there are still people who think the Beatles didn't recorded anything good until "Revolver" - can you believe that shit?!
But I guess it can't be all bad. Yeah, I hated the "Across the Universe" movie, but watching it did spur me to listen to "Please Please Me" and "With The Beatles", the only two Beatles albums I hadn't heard yet. No matter how many lame Beatles tributes come out over the years, they will always lead me back to the real thing, and I guess I can't complain about that. As the years wear on, I will grow with the Beatles' rich body of work, discovering more and more little gems that I will grow to love even more - on my own terms. And ain't that what great music is all about?
So, in the end... the love you take is equal to the love you make. All you need is love. I guess I truly am mother nature's son. Maybe I should just hide my love away? No, no - I'll get by with a little help from my friends, The Beatles, and I'll always remember them when I'm sixty-four. We can work it out once we all come together - here, there, and everywhere. So I guess I can just... let it be.
Good Night, Mr. Moonlight.
(Wait, that song kinda sucked.)
written by Sean Rose Labels: music