Un beau texte, une belle analyse de Danny Kuperberg sur Facebook.
Please comment there too if you’d like.
Anyway, here we go…
1. They had a unrivalled sense of humour compared to any other band I’ve ever seen or heard of. They could have been a 4-man scouser Marx Brothers if they had put their minds to it!
2. The Beatles had a work ethic unlike any other band in history. Not just the 8 hour Kaiserkeller sets, nor often 2 gigs a night during their touring years. When they wrote, they clocked in and out with a ton of overtime. Anyone who’s worked in the music biz knows that this normally doesn’t happen, certainly not to that degree.
3. Musically they were generically way more open than their contemporaries. Take Clapton and Cream as an example. They were blues-obsessives, and as George would admit during the Get Back sessions, Eric was a more technically gifted player than him. However, George could inflect country styles and Indian sitar patterns into his playing. Clapton simply didn’t have that range. And Paul? Ha! There was no style he couldn’t make his own; not folk, English Music-Hall, kids music, reggae, hard rock. Music just poured out of him. As he himself said, he had way more musical DNA by his teens than most musicians in an entire lifetime. All credit to his dad Jim here.
4. They could individually swap instruments with ease according to what was needed for the song. Paul shifts to piano, John to bass, George to drums. Even Ringo could play piano! This enhances the songwriting process and always leads to a more interesting arrangement.
Without Ringo, the Beatles would only have been half the band they were. Think about it. How often do you get a drummer in a band with that much patience, calm, understanding etc?
I was astonished and impressed with his rock-solid temperament in Get Back. He was quietly adapting and arranging his drum part so that it was moulded perfectly to suit the song. So many drummers I’ve worked with want to put flashy fills in, almost as show-off moves. Ringo was the opposite. Also his style was unique. Without wanting to get too technical, he knew how to lay back BEHIND the beat and not ahead of it. Most drummers do the latter or desperately try and keep metronomical time. Ringo was different and his rhythmic feel defines their sound, probably more so than other musical element. Hats off to your Ringo (and I’m not just talking about hi-hats). He was SUCH a humble guy too. Watching him accompany Macca on boogie woogie piano during the Get Back sessions was such a joy to watch.
6. They never got old. By this I mean that every member was under 30 when they split up. Just let that sink in. They had achieved musical immortality at the point when most (including me) have barely worked out what they want to achieve in life, never mind actually carrying it though.
7. They were culturally unique yet loved across all generations. I was a child jazz pianist. I used to tour around jazz festivals in France from around 8-17 years old. I remember performing Beatles standards like Michelle, Obladi-oblada, Yesterday and Let It Be in restaurants, bars and bandstands. The next day, I’d be wandering around town with my parents - and grandpas, aunts, dads, teens, young kids etc would come up to me and say ‘Le Petit Beatle!’ It felt great and it also made me realise that ALL generations loved them equally - not just rebellious teens. Suffice to say, whenever I see a piano and there are people around, I always start with Hey Jude, Let It Be or Yesterday. Always a winner .
I will happily play any of your Beatles requests on subsequent Beatle shows, specially for you, and obviously for free. I love the band that much
8. They were ludicrously prolific. When one considers that they rehearsed, recorded and released Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver and Pepper all in just over two years, one realises that this is prolific writing on a par with the likes of Mozart - and that’s not hyperbole. It’s no coincidence that Mozart had also written most of his good stuff by the age of thirty too! The likes of Sheeran and Coldplay take roughly three years for every (very very mediocre) album…
9. The Beatles had three, not just one, genius songwriters in a band. Most bands are tremendously lucky to have just the one. These days, the art of popular music songwriting has become virtually lost and so diluted as to make it hardly the most important factor in an act’s eventual success. So much investment is put into so few artists these days that record companies can only rely on the most catchy hooks to justify the huge marketing budgets that they’re gambling on. So they have to play safe. I call it the ‘McDonalds’-isation of music. It’s become beyond commodified and beige, and we’ve sadly got to the point when no one even realises what we lost in the process.
10. Finally, The Beatles defined a decade that no artist has ever matched before or since. Western society transformed more radically and at a more breakneck pace between 1962 and 1969 than at any time in human history. Without The Beatles, this cultural shift would never have happened.