As I sat watching American Idol with my wife last night, it got me thinking how far music has come and gone in my lifetime. Whoever wins American Idol will not change America. That person will have little impact on our culture. From 1963-1970, the Beatles changed everything about music, movies, television, art, fashion, and a whole host of other things. America was never the same.
In 1964, my mother wrote my aunt a letter stating my first words were “Yeah, yeah, yeah”. I grew up with the Beatles and cried when they broke up. In the 70s, I faithfully followed the careers of the newly solo Fab Four and cried even more as a junior in high school when John Lennon was killed in 1980. But throughout all the time, no band or artist has even come close to changing the entire culture. The Stones, Zeppelin, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica, nor Rush have not even come close to the widespread changes the Beatles brought our culture.
Here is what they changed about us:
In 1964, most music was factory made. Songwriters wrote the songs, session musicians played the instruments, and singers sang the songs. After the Beatles, many bands wrote their own stuff and played on the records. They changed the sound of pop music through distortion, pedals, sitars, and other instrumentation and sounds and recording devices. They made the first rock concept album – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They were the first to play stadium rock shows and the first to retire to just become a studio band.
A Hard Day’s Night is still seen as the penultimate movie for many directors of the modern age. It’s quick edits, cuts, and lack of sense would influence many directors and actors. Its influence is second onlyto Citizen King in shot direction. If there were no Beatles, there would have been no Laugh-In, no Monkees, and no videos. With the pre-release of the promotional film, Strawberry Fields, for Sgt. Pepper, MTV would never be the same. They did the first satellite TV broadcast with the premier of “All You Need is Love”
Two words – Yellow Submarine
4. Fashion and Style
Long hair, bell bottoms, long hair, India Nehru jackets, Yoga, TM, and anything from India all were introduced to us by the Beatles.
5. Attitude/Freedom/Questioning Authority
If the Beatles were anything, they were working class. They questioned the nature of things. They shook the status quo and questioned why things were the way they were. Why couldn’t things be another way? All throughout the 60s and early 70s, everything in the culture of adolescence can be traced back to the Beatles
Now the Beatles didn’t invent or make most of these things. What they did do was to make them hip, cool, or popular. Every now and then, a band comes along which changes things, but we shall never see the changes we saw with the Beatles.