Skip

Charting the Beatles
January 19, 2010 3:14 AM   Subscribe


 
I'm not gonna lie. This is fairly amusing.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:49 AM on January 19, 2010


What I have learned/can speculate about from this post/these infographics:
1. George Harrison needed very little help from his friends, it seems.
2. I guess everybody had other things to do in 1968.
3. Shockingly, I prefer more of Macca's tunes to Lennon's.
Why doesn't this calculator work right, dammit.
posted by Minus215Cee at 4:00 AM on January 19, 2010


Just to get things started: McCartney was a better songwriter than Lennon.
posted by pracowity at 4:19 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




Paul McCartney wrote Helter Skelter and played the solos on Taxman and Good Morning Good Morning. He gets forgiven for an awful lot for that by me.
posted by minifigs at 4:34 AM on January 19, 2010


He doesn't need forgiven for anything. McCartney was superior to Lennon.

I enjoyed the exploration of the song keys.
posted by fire&wings at 4:45 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Paul McCartney wrote Helter Skelter and played the solos on Taxman and Good Morning Good Morning.

Yes! But he could also write tender ballads like "Yesterday" and "The Fool on the Hill" plus jaunty songs like "Good Day Sunshine" and "Ob-La-Di." All of which I admit to liking, but I don't really need to "Yesterday" again anytime soon. Then you have Lennon: giving us the swamp rock of "Come Together" and a scorcher like "Revolution." Lennon could do some ballads and slow numbers too: give a listen to "Julia" and "Across the Universe."

Wow, we sure were lucky these guys were in a band together! And with this guy named George Harrison playing lead guitar and writing songs like "Something." And Ringo keeping rock solid time in the background. We all win!

Great post btw.
posted by marxchivist at 4:48 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I liked the infographics, but perhaps I best liked the small graphic at the bottom of the page where early Paul is transforming into later Paul.
posted by OmieWise at 4:52 AM on January 19, 2010


McCartney was superior to Lennon.

I'm in your camp, pal. But I would go so far as to say that McCartney's advantages are almost as much moral as musical. When the Beatles were faced with unlimited fame, drugs, power and women, Paul McCartney kept his head better than Lennon. He held on to his prodigious work ethic. He never succumbed to heroin. He never bought into the culture of permanent transgression. He may have temporarily fallen for the heavy blues authenticity thing, but not for long. He never became a self-dramatizer. He never fell into the trap of thinking that he was superior to "straights." He stayed married (to a completely tin-eared and talentless woman, alas) to the end, and gave his children a good home. And most importantly, he had the good sense to not to marry Yoko Ono. The life led forwards can be seen retrospectively in McCartney's songs. In the 40 years after the Beatles broke up, McCartney actually produced another dozen or so good songs. Lennon's talent disappeared into Yoko's stinky sheets.
posted by Faze at 5:02 AM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Flagged as apostasy, Faze.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:12 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the 40 years after the Beatles broke up, McCartney actually produced another dozen or so good songs. Lennon's talent disappeared into Yoko's stinky sheets..

Right. Except for:
Jealous Guy
Beautiful Boy
Watching the Wheels
Mind Games
Nobody Told Me (Okay, it's not great, but I like it)

Oh yeah, and "Imagine" that one song that pretty regularly ends up as the #1 song of the last century.

And he only got to see about 8 of those 40 years.
posted by DigDoug at 5:13 AM on January 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


George was superior to them all. He was the most musically talented of the lot, and wrote arguably some of their best songs. But more than that, George was a team player. He didn't get caught up in John and Paul's petty fights and competition. He just wanted to write great songs, play great music, and do his part in the best band in the history of popular music. George was a BEATLE, dammit!
posted by Shohn at 5:16 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Paul McCartney wrote Helter Skelter and played the solos on Taxman and Good Morning Good Morning.

Seriously? I had absolutely no idea that was him on Good Morning Good Morning. And here I've been giving George Harrison the credit for that all these years. I always love hearing that solo - scorching tone, completely fits the song, and isn't long enough to slip into hey-check-me-out-I'm-an-awesome-guitarist.

(Although I don't love George any the less for finding that out. He was just so cool.)
posted by ZsigE at 5:17 AM on January 19, 2010


Don't forget the Flickr group.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on January 19, 2010


Faze: "McCartney's advantages are almost as much moral as musical. ... He held on to his prodigious work ethic."

I seem to recall reading that he was the only one of the group who learned how to read music. He would get big points for that from me.

On the other hand, if he hadn't, we probably would have been spared Liverpool Oratorio.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:29 AM on January 19, 2010


As an exercise in infographics, these are awesome. As pop culture, they make me sad that it's trekkies that get all the mockery.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:30 AM on January 19, 2010


Best line from the Golden Globe awards the other night: "Hi, I'm Paul McCartney, better known as 'that guy from Rock Band.'"
posted by jbickers at 5:30 AM on January 19, 2010


Lennon's talent disappeared into Yoko's stinky sheets.

I'm either 1) surprised you would say this without having spent any time listening to Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, or 2) dumbfounded that you have listened to that album and come to the conclusion that Lennon's talent left him after the Beatles.

It ranks up there with anything the Beatles did.
posted by ericost at 5:32 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


McCartney's advantages are almost as much moral as musical.

Your favorite morality sucks. I know it's a troll meant to be amusing but that post was one unpleasant motherfucker.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:36 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lennon's talent disappeared into Yoko's stinky sheets.

I have it on good authority that her sheets smell just fine, thank you.
posted by device55 at 5:43 AM on January 19, 2010


"In the 40 years after the Beatles broke up, McCartney actually produced another dozen or so good songs. Lennon's talent disappeared into Yoko's stinky sheets.."

while i don't entirely agree, that double fantasy album has some shite on it that is by ono/lennon. i know love is blind but deaf as well?

and yes, macca gets forgiven everything for stuff like blackbird and let it be etc.
posted by marienbad at 5:46 AM on January 19, 2010


The William Dowdling book, "Beatlesongs", referenced in this post. Is an awesome book for Beatles fans.

Great stories, like how they treated George Martin their in studio engineer, producer, like a school master, taking turns going to the bathroom to smoke pot, making sure Martin didn't find out. Or how EMI one of the richest recording labels in the world at the time, primarily from Beatles songs, would lock up the tea and refrigerators, forcing the fab four to break open locks with pry bars to get milk for tea. (Things sure have changed.) Or an absolutely brutal chapter about Martin forcing Ringo to sit out most of Please Please Me and having studio drummers sit in instead. In the notes, Ringo is credited with tambourine and maracas on most of the Beatles' first album.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 6:38 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to get things started: McCartney was a better songwriter than Lennon.

[Spit-take]
posted by modernnomad at 6:50 AM on January 19, 2010


I liked the infographics, but perhaps I best liked the small graphic at the bottom of the page where early Paul is transforming into later Paul.

isn't that actually later George?
posted by sineater at 7:22 AM on January 19, 2010


You favorite band is ok but your favorite guy in your favorite band sucks.
posted by bondcliff at 7:48 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ringo was the best band member.
posted by pracowity at 7:52 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]



isn't that actually later George?

I'm pretty sure that happened during the summer of George.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 7:58 AM on January 19, 2010


Of course, the Shaggs were better than the Beatles. I think everyone can agree with that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:01 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter-related Beatles self-link: All You Need is Love Unless You Have No Food.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:06 AM on January 19, 2010


I don't know about that, but they're something special to me.
posted by pracowity at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2010


(The Shaggs, I mean.)
posted by pracowity at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2010


Though Paul was the cute one.
posted by pracowity at 8:08 AM on January 19, 2010


The cute Shagg, you mean.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:08 AM on January 19, 2010


The greatest Beatle was Jimmy Nicol and I refuse to entertain arguments otherwise.
posted by turaho at 8:12 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall reading that he was the only one of the group who learned how to read music.

I'm pretty sure that's not right. I recall reading (a lot of that going around, hmm) when his symphonic album came out in 1997 that he'd hired a guy basically to transcribe all of McCartney's singing into actual notes (the explanation being that he couldn't read music rather than laziness or inability to get it right or something).
posted by shakespeherian at 8:14 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also Billy Preston was the best Beatle.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:16 AM on January 19, 2010


George Martin was the best Beatle, kids.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:17 AM on January 19, 2010


By definition, Pete was the Best Beatle.
posted by nicepersonality at 8:30 AM on January 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


And I remember reading that he took a few music lessons once but realised that he'd written Yesterday but was having trouble sight reading Twinkle Twinkle so he gave it up.
posted by minifigs at 8:33 AM on January 19, 2010


He just wanted to write great songs, play great music, and do his part in the best band in the history of popular music. George was a BEATLE, dammit!

I'll admit I have a bit of a bias because George and I shared a birthday, but damned if I haven't started gravitating to more and more of George's Beatle songs as time has passed ("Inner Light", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "If I Needed Someone", "Something", and I dance like a fool to "It's All Too Much") -- and then there's everything on All Things Must Pass as well.

And then there's the fact that he single-handedly saved production on Life Of Brian with some eleventh-hour funding when their initial producer dropped out, or the fact that he would always travel with two ukeleles in case he ran into a friend who he liked jamming with and the friend didn't have one of his own to play with. You have to like the kind of guy who's always prepared for the possibility of spontaneous ukelele duets.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


The greatest Beatle was Jimmy Nicol and I refuse to entertain arguments otherwise.

Jimmy Nicol, previously.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lennon's talent disappeared into Yoko's stinky sheets.

Lennon and McCartney both declined after the Beatles' broke up, but I've never heard anyone make a comment like this about Linda McCartney.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:49 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice way to hijack a post and take it completely off-subject! But the infographic does provide a better understanding of Ringo's unceasing touring with his certifiably unspectacular "All-Stars".

Note to boys and girls in bands; learn to write lyrics and insist on song writing credits anytime you contribute to the creation of a song no matter how small the contribution might be.
posted by gigbutt at 8:51 AM on January 19, 2010


but I've never heard anyone make a comment like this about Linda McCartney.

Well, we could make fun of those awful frozen dinners.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 AM on January 19, 2010


Right. Except for:
Jealous Guy
Beautiful Boy
Watching the Wheels
Mind Games
Nobody Told Me (Okay, it's not great, but I like it)

Oh yeah, and "Imagine" that one song that pretty regularly ends up as the #1 song of the last century.

And he only got to see about 8 of those 40 years.


So, about 5 songs stand out from his 11-year (1970-1980) solo career. Oh, and one all-around cool album (Plastic Ono Band). And these were all just nice songs -- that is, they were perfectly fine, but they didn't push the envelope of popular music like Tomorrow Never Knows, Strawberry Fields Forever, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Norwegian Wood, She Said She Said, A Day in the Life, I Am the Walrus, or so many of his other 100 or so Beatles songs.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:56 AM on January 19, 2010


Heh. Its 1966 again in here today.

What we should be talking about is the complete improbability that these guys - all four (or five) of them, but I'm talking more specifically about John, Paul, and George here - were born within a few miles of each other, grew up in working class homes in post-war Britain and living on ration stamps, no real "formal" musical training for any of them, certainly nothing in school, each of them having the expectation that they would leave school at 16 or so to enter a trade and work for wages for the rest of their lives -- that these guys were all so insanely talented that now, some forty years later we're still arguing about which of them was the most talented. That they met, became friends, formed a band, went on to fame and fortune.

There were, by some estimates, hundreds of bands that formed in Liverpool at that time. A few of them actually made a living playing music. A handful of them recorded. A couple of them you can probably name, if you think hard. But what is the likelihood that this one rose above the rest?
posted by anastasiav at 8:57 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


He stayed married (to a completely tin-eared and talentless woman, alas)

Alas? Alas? Linda Eastman McCartney was a professional photographer, not a musician (though yes, yes, of course she was drafted for duty in Wings, and the less said about that the better), so calling her tin-eared is beside the point and talentless is simply wrong. Aside from that, she was the love of Paul's life who helped him survive emotionally when the Beatles imploded and he lost John as his creative partner/best friend, raised four terrific kids with Paul, and became a significant campaigner for animal rights. As a couple, they were apparently never apart for more than a few nights in their entire relationship.

Alas, nothing. Each of us should be so blessed to find such a loving, talented, supportive, loving partner, whether they're tone deaf or not.




(GEORGE FOREVER!)
posted by scody at 8:58 AM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


There were, by some estimates, hundreds of bands that formed in Liverpool at that time. A few of them actually made a living playing music. A handful of them recorded. A couple of them you can probably name, if you think hard. But what is the likelihood that this one rose above the rest?

The pedant in me would point out that you could say exactly the same thing about London when the Rolling Stones formed, or Dublin when U2 formed, or just about any band anywhere in the world and in the history of ever.

Which kind of re-affirms your point that "rather than quibbling about which one is the best, why not just kick back and say 'who cares, they're just damn awesome, yay!'"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on January 19, 2010


Linda Eastman McCartney was a professional photographer, not a musician (though yes, yes, of course she was drafted for duty in Wings, and the less said about that the better), so calling her tin-eared is beside the point

Have you heard of Ram, by "Paul and Linda McCartney"? I assume she got money from an album that was credited to her along with Paul, and from Wings too. So, it's a little odd to deny that she was a professional musician. What's wrong with criticizing her merits as a performer? That said, I agree that she shouldn't be called "talentless" unless the intention is to put down her music and photography and recipes.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:04 AM on January 19, 2010


I dispute that Ringo did not collaborate with John and Paul on "Octopus's Garden". Watch the film "Let it Be" where he presents the song to them -- it's completely different from how it ended up on the album. I submit that those differences are all from John and Paul. Not that Ringo wasn't a talented songwriter...it just hadn't manifested itself at that point.
posted by drinkcoffee at 9:10 AM on January 19, 2010


If you watched the movie you saw George, not John or Paul, helping Ringo with Octopus's Garden.

Anyway, the Beatles almost always helped each other with their songs, except for the occasional "Yesterday" or "Julia." Listen to the solo acoustic demos of John or Paul songs on the Anthology CDs -- they usually sound quite different from how they ended up. "Strawberry Fields Forever" is barely recognizable.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:13 AM on January 19, 2010


More infographical music fun: The fleshmap of body part references in music.
posted by rocket88 at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the Beatles and have nothing negative to say about any of them, pre-, during, or post-Beatles. There are few bands that I can honestly say have enriched my life. The Beatles are one. I have no religion, but I have the Beatles music.

Thanks for the post.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:39 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I seem to recall reading that he was the only one of the group who learned how to read music.

No. He still has never learned that. The oratorio was transcribed from his recordings.
posted by grubi at 9:40 AM on January 19, 2010


Or an absolutely brutal chapter about Martin forcing Ringo to sit out most of Please Please Me and having studio drummers sit in instead. In the notes, Ringo is credited with tambourine and maracas on most of the Beatles' first album.

Inaccurate. Ringo sat out one version of their first single. He was there for the rest of the album.
posted by grubi at 9:43 AM on January 19, 2010


Have you heard of Ram, by "Paul and Linda McCartney"? I assume she got money from an album that was credited to her along with Paul, and from Wings too. So, it's a little odd to deny that she was a professional musician.

You may be surprised to learn that smug pedantry doesn't actually score you many points. I credit your intelligence enough to say that you know precisely what I meant in my original: that Linda was a photographer by training and profession, not a musician; YES, she played on Paul's records (and received credit, royalties, etc) because working together in the studio and being together on the road was fundamental to the type of marriage they had. I've appeared in friends' movies and done bits on friends' records, too (and received credit and payment), but it doesn't make me a professional actress or musician by anything other than the most literal, narrow definition.
posted by scody at 10:05 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see your point. If you've acted in movies or played on records knowing that they'd be released to the general public, you're opening yourself up to criticism of your talent or lack thereof based on those performances.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:09 AM on January 19, 2010


Also, it doesn't sound like you had your first and last name emblazoned on the album cover of those recordings, which is what Linda McCartney did.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:10 AM on January 19, 2010


Alas, nothing. Each of us should be so blessed to find such a loving, talented, supportive, loving partner, whether they're tone deaf or not.

Linda McCartney was super awesome in a lot of ways, including as an artist and in all the ways you mention. And when I say that, I have to block out the mental image of her standing behind the keyboard in Wings and in Paul's subsequent bands and doing that Texas Longhorns hand signal the whole time. (What was that? Some kind of Sgt. Pepper cartoon trend that never really caught on with anyone but Linda?) She was like if your mom suddenly joined your favorite band and stood up there in mom jeans the whole time, shakin' it: You love her because she's your mom, but the vicarious embarassment is just crushing.

I maintain that the only reason I'm not a rock star is that I didn't have a band with three guys as good as the Beatles and a producer as good as George Martin when I was in my teens and early 20s. (No offense to my former bandmates, who are some of my favorite people in the world. And they probably think I was the weak link, anyway.)
posted by The World Famous at 10:19 AM on January 19, 2010


I now have three points. The first one is that you are being a pedantic bore. NEVER DID I SAY that Linda didn't work as a musician with Paul. Sweet Krishna on a cracker, you do get that, right?

My second point from the start is to say that referring to Paul as having stayed married to a "tin-eared and talentless woman, alas," is bullshit statement that seems to imply that the McCartney marriage would have been better if Paul had only had the taste to marry a woman who was a talented musician in her own right to begin with. Well, Linda was not that woman; Linda would likely never have done anything with music without Paul and she making the decision to have the kind of extremely close-knit marriage they had. Linda played with Wings solely because she and Paul wanted their whole family together as much as possible, and nearly 40 years on she continues to earn ugly cheap shots for her troubles because she didn't happen to have a great voice.

Point 3: this is tedious, and I'm not responding to you anymore.
posted by scody at 10:21 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


(you = jaltcoh, not The World Famous)
posted by scody at 10:23 AM on January 19, 2010


If we're having a "tin-eared and talentless" contest with respect to music, I submit that Yoko wins that one hands down over Linda.

In fact, even acknowledging Yoko's substantial non-music talent as an artist, Linda was more talented in her non-music art.
posted by The World Famous at 10:24 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


And here's another thing: I don't believe for one second that George Harrison wrote "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". I suspect that latter was written for him by Eric Clapton. And "Something" just comes out of nowhere. He never wrote anything like it before or after. I suspect that like Jagger/Richards, he was paying people for songs. (Don't forget, this was a guy who played innocent after blatantly ripping off "He's so Fine" for "My Sweet Lord".)
posted by Faze at 10:25 AM on January 19, 2010


I seem to recall reading that he was the only one of the group who learned how to read music. He would get big points for that from me.

Really? Given that his musical output was the same whether you thought he could read music or not, why does it matter?

Not to rag on you, Joe, but the activities of the last four years of my life have depended on my being able to read music fluently, and yet I'm more convinced than ever that the ability to read music isn't an essential or even always desirable component of musicianship, universally speaking.

Also: I'm with George.
posted by invitapriore at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scody, I was also defending Linda against the charge of being "talentless." She was a top-notch photographer and an acclaimed cookbook author. That doesn't mean we should gloss over her other shortcomings. You're making it sound like she wasn't an autonomous adult but was somehow coerced into performing musically. You may think you're honoring her memory by glossing over her shortcomings and depicting her as a child who was passively "drafted" into playing in a hit music group, but this is hardly a compliment to her.

By the same token, I've seen Paul McCartney criticized as a poor visual artist. As long as he's releasing his paintings (or whatever) to the public, that's a completely valid criticism. That doesn't prevent us from also recognizing that he's a great musician and songwriter.

Also, I'm sorry if you find me a "bore" or "smug" or "pedantic." I'll comment if you want me to comment, or I won't comment if you don't want me to comment. Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2010


.....Faze, you're dead to me.

*clutches her copy of All Things Must Pass and the "Concert for George" DVD and sulks*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on January 19, 2010


(Don't forget, this was a guy who played innocent after blatantly ripping off "He's so Fine" for "My Sweet Lord".)

How about John Lennon ripping off Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" for one of his most famous songs, "Come Together"?
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:43 AM on January 19, 2010


I enjoyed the exploration of the song keys.

Newsflash: Guitarists like sharps better than flats.
posted by straight at 10:45 AM on January 19, 2010


Holy fuck, MetaFilter, how did a Beatles thread turn into an ugly shoutfest? Everyone settle down and get your blankies, Jesus. What is wrong with this year so far?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:48 AM on January 19, 2010


how did a Beatles thread turn into an ugly shoutfest?

Actually, this always happens with Beatles threads on Mefi. The Beatels were so complex, flawed, and varied that people always find things to disagree about.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2010


Within the Beatles, I find it very difficult to assign favorites. The fact of the matter is that every one of them was essential to the group, they all had brilliant songs (Octopus's Garden counts, dammit), and together they made pop music that remains exciting both musically and emotionally.

Outside the group, however, I have to throw my stalwart support behind John Lennon, for no other reason than Plastic Ono Band. All Things Must Pass is a terrific rock album, McCartney's had a handful of great songs (Nobody mentioned Lonely Roads? Shame), but Plastic Ono Band is such a cathartic album. If Sgt. Pepper's is my cheer-me-up album, Plastic Ono Band is the album I go to when I feel bleak and nihilistic and need something to keep me sane. Everything from the scream ending Mother to the soft, despairing My Mummy's Dead is undeniably human. We get to see Lennon, the legendary musician, at the bottom of pit after pit, sounding like we all do in our most brutal tantrums. When I'm at my worst, knowing Lennon was there too gives me comfort.

I also have to throw in support for Yoko Ono. She's not a favorite and never will be, but I enjoy her music, and I'm constantly surprised by how vital it sounds. She's got more spunk in her than most twentysomething vocalists do. I admire that. And much as we might not like her, Lennon loved her, and he did so until he died. It's his love that counts, not our assessment of the same.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Beatels were so complex, flawed, and varied

Flawed? You don't say?

(Has anyone done a post about this song yet?)
posted by pracowity at 10:59 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck, MetaFilter, how did a Beatles thread turn into an ugly shoutfest?

Well, it was bound to turn snarky, but like so many threads, it got ugly when Faze showed up.

If you took a dozen of each of Faze's three kinds of linebreakless, self-important screed - 1) why suburbia is the perfection of human society, 2) why climate change is a cult with Al Gore as its godhead, and 3) why my subjective views on pop music are holy writ - and mashed 'em all together, it'd be like the Timecube of pointless, bilious derailment. The offhandedly sexist swipes at Linda McCartney and Yoko Ono are a new flavour of liver-secretion sprinkle scattered across this particular thread, but otherwise we've seen this many times before.

I would, however, like to applaud those herein who are attempting to put this thing back on track by pointing out that by almost any measure worth counting the Beatles were a staggeringly talented band, especially given the improbability of any four random working-class Liverpudlian teens of the late 1950s being this musically gifted, let alone four who managed to meet, record, stay together and reinvent pop music.

Like any great pop band, they were exponentially greater than the sum of their parts. There's something almost mystical that can happen with the right people in the right place at the right time. If they'd only first met in say '65 after several years in lesser bands, it wouldn't have worked. If they'd never gone to Hamburg, it wouldn't have worked. If they'd had Keith Moon on drums, despite his overabundance of talent it wouldn't have worked. If they'd been Londoners I bet there would've been something ineffably different about their collective POV and it wouldn't have worked.

If there were no alchemy to assembly of a pop band, then the Traveling Wilburys would've released one of the ten best albums of the last thirty years. (As it is, I'll always have a soft spot for "Tweeter & the Monkey Man.") The Beatles were an incomparable pop band because they were the Beatles. Everyone's post-breakup output amounted to something less because it wasn't the Beatles. You can generally only bottle lightning - that much of it, anyway - once in a pop career.
posted by gompa at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Anyone can agree that the solo Beatle's output didn't measure up to the group's but somehow I doubt that if the group stayed together they would have been able to keep up the brilliance collectively either. For whatever reason, most pop artists seem to have a very limited span of time when they produce vital music and slide quickly down hill after that. I'm happy that they broke up when they did and embarrass themselves by cranking out forgettable albums and supporting them with overpriced stadium tours where they don't even bother to play the newer songs.
posted by octothorpe at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2010


I like faze. As contrarians go he is one of the best. Some people want an echo chamber I guess, but I'd rather hear all points of view and lively up the place.


I never followed the Beatles enough to get into who is better and I never understood all the Yoko hate. I have some of her albums and though I haven't listened to her in years I remember liking them. And I read an interview with her years ago where they asked what music she liked and she said (then unknown) Trio. I bought their album on her recommendation and really liked it, so it's all good.

The Beatles In 1957

One thing I've always noticed about the Beatles is how photogenic they always were. Did they ever take a bad picture?
posted by vronsky at 1:47 PM on January 19, 2010


The Beatles In 1957

I love that picture! I keep wondering what was going the mind of the guy on the right, the non-Beatle, when the picture was taken. Something like "my beer's half gone, better get another". Or "wonder if there's any more of those tasty canapes". Or "there's a hot little lass over there. I'd like to shag her!"

But most certainly not "Holy fucking Christ! I'm standing next to the Beatles!!"
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:17 PM on January 19, 2010


Newsflash: Guitarists like sharps better than flats.

Guitarists like open chords and standard tunings. Guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, who tune their guitar to Eb instead of E, and Johnny Marr, who used capos a lot, like flats just fine.
posted by The World Famous at 3:44 PM on January 19, 2010


I heard George had his cats declawed.
posted by applemeat at 4:00 PM on January 19, 2010


I really wish the first chart had a higher resolution version that I could get because as it is I am loving it but having a hard time reading the song titles. :(

Otherwise, great post. Love the Beatles and these charts are great.
posted by lizarrd at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2010


Shouldn't Ringo get a small percentage of "A Hard Day's Night" since he came up with the title?
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:04 PM on January 19, 2010


Why is it that when anyone brings up The Beatles it has to turn into some kind of, "Who would win, the Klingons or the Empire" debate.

I swear, if you kids don't shape up I'm going to put the entire British Invasion on top the refrigerator and you can all just listen to Doo Wop songs until 1972!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:07 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is it that when anyone brings up The Beatles it has to turn into some kind of, "Who would win, the Klingons or the Empire" debate.

To be fair, it's not so much that as it is a "who is more awesome: Obi Wan Kenobi or Han Solo" debate. The British Invasion version of "Klingons or the Empire" is "who is the better songwriting duo, Lennon/McCartney or Jagger/Richards?"

The answer to that debate, by the way, is Lennon/McCartney, since Jagger/Richards always had a third songwriter (notably Brian Jones and Mick Taylor) helping them to not suck.

There's also the game where you imagine how awesome it would be if there were some unknown alternate versions knocking around with Page or Beck solos on Beatles songs, in addition to the Clapton ones, given that they did solos for other bands, like The Who. (Which is the equivalent of imagining how awesome it would be if Han Solo had been captain of the Enterprise for just one episode, and how he would totally have shot first at the Klingons and then blasted the control panel on the captain's chair when Scotty gave him some dire news about engineering.)

Yes, I'm a nerd.
posted by The World Famous at 6:30 PM on January 19, 2010


Faze, I practically worship Clapton but though he may be God, he did not write "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Clapton did not have the songwriting chops in 1968 to produce something like that. In fact I'd go so far as to say that Clapton would have never been able to produce that song at any point in his career. It's just totally out of character for him. The use of diminished chords alone puts George's fingerprints all over that thing. And then you add on the inward-looking, meditative lyrics and it pretty much seals the deal.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:34 PM on January 19, 2010


wabbitwax, I'm not saying Clapton did write it, but While My Guitar Gently Weeps is basically White Room played slowly in Am instead of Dm, and White Room was on Disraeli Gears, which came out in 1967.
posted by The World Famous at 7:59 PM on January 19, 2010


Crap. White Room is on Wheels of Fire, which came out in '68.
posted by The World Famous at 8:02 PM on January 19, 2010


I trudged through the slushy snow at age 11, in 1963, to buy my very first record, for 99 cents. A 45 rpm single. For some reason, I was already skeptical about the record industry, and was surprised that they put both their number one hits on one '45. I Want to Hold Your Hand, and I Saw Her Standing There.

Their brief and astounding career has been even more incredible in retrospect. Quibbles about their subsequent solo careers will continue, although I have to say I like Harrison's first, McCartneys's first, and most of Lennon's albums.
posted by kozad at 8:31 PM on January 19, 2010


I don't believe for one second that George Harrison wrote "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". I suspect that latter was written for him by Eric Clapton...I suspect that like Jagger/Richards, he was paying people for songs.

I would like to know more about all of this.
posted by Sutekh at 10:11 PM on January 19, 2010


I practically worship Clapton

*shudders
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 AM on January 20, 2010


So, about 5 songs stand out from his 11-year (1970-1980) solo career. Oh, and one all-around cool album (Plastic Ono Band).

He was 'retired' through a lot of that. And, that's still an astronomically better signal-to-crap ratio than Wings and solo McCartney. That said, I'm still a fan of all of The Beatles, including post Beatles.
posted by DigDoug at 6:37 AM on January 20, 2010


The use of diminished chords alone puts George's fingerprints all over that thing

I'm sure George Harrison wrote "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but there are no diminished chords in that song. Off the top of my head, there aren't a whole lot of diminished chords in the entirety of The Beatles oeuvre.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:49 AM on January 25, 2010


George's fingerprints all over that thing

But it was Ringo who got the blisters.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:23 PM on January 25, 2010


there are no diminished chords in that song

Yeah, you're right. I think I was mixing it up with Isn't It A Pity and just not thinking straight.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:42 PM on January 26, 2010


« Older 'John Barleycorn' by Carol Ann Duffy   |   Hey Ladies! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post