It had been a particularly hot and humid week. I was surrounded by kids with calamine on their chicken pox marks and adults trying to pass off a viral fever as nothing. It had been one of those weeks you might call fruitless. The village kept internet scarce. Television doled out soaps that I know one can only crave for when either intoxicated, or, forty (plus).
I was, as usual, trying to find some piece of entertainment on the laptop. A piece that I had not already watched enough times to be able to simultaneously sing the background score and recite the accompanying dialogues. In the same daze that engulfs me while I study, and keeps me from making sense out of anything, I was moving my cursor in circles. And in the same moment of enlightenment that you realize you have been staring at the same graph for an hour, I glanced upon the Beatles discography that had not been touched for a week now.
I went over the albums and somehow every mood I had experienced in the past one week had a fix to it, right there. Every time I listen to a song by the Beatles, I know why music is supposed to be what uplifts you and transcends you into this altogether parallel universe. And if you have any inclination towards the sociology of it all (and time on your hands), you begin to realize how much more they were, than a band that made “Epic Music”. The Beatles were a culture, a phenomenon, an event in their own right. The Beatles, in their most popular form, (with Lennon, Harrison, Mc Cartney and Starr) existed from 1962 to 1970. In the eight years that they were, the Beatles created music for a lifetime. And since I cannot cover that aspect of it in limited space, I chose to recount my lessons from the distinct encounter with different aspects of the band. There is no in depth analysis of each album, no song by song review. It’s an analysis of why they are the most(est) awesome(st) band of all time, from a normal listener’s point of view.
THE INTRO ASPECT: The first song I ever heard by the Beatles was “Let it be” when two enormously talented singers in my school performed it for our Annual day. For the first time, I saw every parent sing along, no matter whose child performed. I did not know how everyone knew the song, but I definitely got to know the why of it pretty soon. Yes, It was a beautiful inspiring song which everyone can relate with something in their lives. It can be a relationship, a fight, college results or maybe even a lost earring.
But somehow, that wasn’t it. There are numerous inspirational songs. You listen to them, get the heady feeling, feel like you will change the world and sleep off. This particular song got stuck in my head. It was so simple. Forget the music, the meaning, and the depth of it all. Forget the Beatles, their charm, the boys with their moppy hair and funny suits. What catches you about this song by the Beatles, about almost any song by the Beatles is how simple it is. The reason “I wanna hold your hand” topped charts endlessly was the appeal in the simplicity of the love song. Complexity and depth are two different concepts. Those who think Beatles made complex songs and music are confusing the two. You don’t need to understand the song in its multifaceted nature to be able to love it, the Beatles wrote music for the masses. And somehow every song had a mass appeal that made people go, “Oooh, this song is so ME.” Even if you never thought of yourself as a “walrus” ever before, when The Beatles said it, you knew you were in there somewhere.
THE “I TOO CAN SING” ASPECT : Another thing I realized about music is that, (unless it is an instrumental piece or trance, duh) you like music that you can sing along with, irrespective and unaware of the numerous human rights violations you conduct on the rhythm, the tune, tempo and every other fancy music nuance.. There is a reason I have invariably heard more people with a track by The Beatles as their favourite karaoke song. Personally, I haven’t known a song to be as much as fun “Hey Jude” or “Twist and shout”.
There is an inherent flow to every little beat of theirs that includes you in the phenomenon that the song is. And it isn’t just the faster ones that make you suddenly feel all talented. Try singing a song musically as complex as “while my guitar gently weeps “. You will manage to finish it and you will know what the magic of The Beatles appeal is .The Beatles don’t let you let yourself down.
THE “WOAH! THIS IS DEEP!” ASPECT: Once you have heard The Beatles enough times and sung along and felt happy about their songs, you get to see the side that comes with knowing The Beatles . “Eleanor Rigby” has been called the best song by the Beatles. When you try understanding the song, you feel sorry for Eleanor Rigby. Give an ear to “Revolution” and you see absolute sense. You know wars are bad, you want to stop them, the Beatles tell you how to. You learn from the song. The Beatles were a life skills course. When the third aspect hits you, you trivialize a lot of things that had been important until then and you glorify things you ignored. The experience makes you think and you go, “Woah! This is deep, bro!”. As The Beatles evolved over the years from fun ,happy songs like “Hold me tight” (Please Please me)to more mature and socially impactful songs like “Let it be”, they had the world evolve with them . This evolution does not evade the listener. Every new Beatles experience gives you a new insight , a new found meaning for every song and every beat. Sometimes you know when they talk of the world, sometimes you think the song is talking of you,. Somehow every single time, you listen when they talk.
The lights get put out and it’s time for the kids to put their second coat of calamine lotion. In reality, life is still as monotonous. In my head, I have a lot more to say. Eventually, I come to terms with the existence of a word limit and I know I am not the first one to feel at a loss of space. The Beatles came as a group of young British men and somehow never left the scene. They were a phenomenon like everyone wants to be. Even by the end, they went out like a band for the people, seeking approval from the people. Like Lennon said, ”I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!”