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Friday, April 1, 2011

On The Record: The Beatles At Their Best

I gave way too much thought to this post, But, going on the record and calling "Rain" the Beatles at their best is serious business for an un-repentant Beatles geek like me. My case follows.

1.) Although this is clearly a John Lennon song - and he is my favorite vocalist of the four - the song still has a collaborative air about it. To wit: The signature background vocals (McCartney & Harrison); the unmistakable Harrison influence with those chiming open strings; McCartney's wonderful lead guitar work disguised as bass playing. And Ringo - OMG!!
2.) Because this is "mid-period" Beatles, the lyric is about more than love. Not that there is anything wrong with early Beatles songs about love; what an empty world it would be without "This Boy". But the lyric here is more intriguing than many songs released around this time.
3.) The psychedelic experimentation after the last chorus ends (and Ringo thunders back in with Paul at his heels) is interesting but... it goes on for only about 20 seconds during the fade. Compare that to many lesser talents from the era who just went on & on with that stuff, wearing out their musical welcome.

For this post, I fully expect (no, I demand!) your comments. When were the Beatles at their best for you? What makes your choice a "best"? Let the debate begin.

3 comments:

  1. I need to listen to "Rain" again. Have not heard it in many years. What the Beatles have done is like infinity to me. I just cannot comprehend how 4 guys could have written so many great songs. Without giving it any thought, Sgt Peppers stands out because the first time I heard it was at a Battle of the Bands at Rhondo music. That band won but I was so surprised it was a Beatle song. Then when I got the album I was blown away. The first time I heard the Beatles was on Boy Scout camping trip. The drummer in my band kept telling me about this new kind of music from the UK. As we were in our tent going to sleep, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", came on our small transitor radio. To tell you the truth, I am still hearing things I have not heard before in Beatle songs. I don't know if I can pick a best. Definitely will need more time to think about that one.

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  2. I think Rain is a great song. There are so many I like though that I can't pick just one. More than the music though, the Beatles are like a bookmark into my childhood. In many ways I don't remember much of itbefore the Beatles came around. I do remember however the Ed Sullivan show, buying Meet the Beatles at the grocery store, obsessing over the cool clothes they wore, and angry at my family because I lived in a small town in Louisiana where there were NO Beatle boots or Nehru jackets. Oh yea, and I had curly hair that wouldn't swoop in the front. Anyway, the music and the band were absolutely life changing for me. I immediately got a guitar and haven't stopped playing since 1965 or so. Thank you Beatles.

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  3. Here are my thoughts of the Beatles’ chronology. First of all, I relate everything back to the US LP’s, as that was our album experience. Everything up to Meet The Beatles I consider early or developmental Beatles - cool to look back on but I wasn’t aware of it until Please Please Me came out. Meet The Beatles through Help - the US invasion - was, simply, life-changing, transforming, imprinted-in-our-brains-forever, life-will-never-be the-same, Beatles music. Exciting beyond words. Rubber Soul through Revolver were transitional - the music gradually became more intricate and developed, going from rock/pop to something more meaningful and introspective. Then two psychedelic albums ushered in another world of experience; and there was Yellow Submarine which I never really got. Then, oh my gosh, the amazing White Album took Beatles music to a more personal level, like they were speaking directly to me, maybe not as “developed” as the music of Sgt. Pepper and MMT, but more real. Abbey Road felt like The Beatles would live on forever, so we almost took Let It Be for granted, but in retrospect it sure was foretelling and had some excellent songs (I especially like Across The Universe, Dig A Pony, Don’t Let Me Down, and of course Get Back!). Then suddenly it was over. All of that change packed into, what, six and a half years? How amazing.

    So, 1964 for me was the Beatles at their best, from I Want To Hold Your Hand hitting the radio in January, Ed Sullivan in February, the release of 5 US albums, and the movie A Hard Day’s Night with songs that still make me feel good ... I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, I’m So Happy Just To Dance With You, And I Love Her, Tell Me Why, Any Time At All, Things We Said Today, I’ll Be Back...what a time! Yeah, the music wasn’t as multi-faceted as in the later periods, but it was wildly creative, new and fun.

    Lastly, Yesterday And Today from ’66 is still one of my favorite albums, with songs like Drive My Car, Nowhere Man, And Your Bird Can Sing and We Can Work It Out, it never disappoints, and Day Tripper is still rockin’ as ever!

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