I saw a big box of Beatles in a store the other day.
It was a video game that puts people on an electronic stage with the Fab Four and it is built around their legendary sound.
The downside is that the experience is actually just another over-hyped fad that puts non-musical devotees in a co-ordination test with little — check that — no connection to musical talent.
The upside is that a new generation will meet the Beatles, however inadvertently. Those of us old enough to remember these guys on Ed Sullivan met them a long time ago. The Beatles arrived amidst an enormous amount of fanfare as the lead assault team in the British Invasion which reshaped popular music in the ’60s.
The Sullivan show was a front seat to the hysteria which greeted the Beatles when they came to North America and a whole generation of very young teenaged girls broke eardrums with one long scream.
This was hardly the time to take the Beatles seriously because every generation is plagued with untalented teen idols. But the Beatles were different.
These guys were not the ’60s version of the Jonas Brothers and that became very evident by 1965 after the Beatles shed their early teenybopper material and began to flex their musical muscles.
That’s when people began to see the depth of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting machine and the music reflected their genius. George Harrison was no slouch in the creativity department either, but he lived in the shadow of Lennon and McCartney. Meanwhile, Ringo was a competent drummer in the Beatles.
The Beatles redefined popular music in the mid-’60s when they brought a sharper edge to the ’60s sound which had been seriously neutered by the Bobby Vinton and Pat Boone years in the early part of the decade.
This kind of syrupy crap on the radio was in serious need of extinction and the Beatles were just the guys to push them over the cliff.
The Beatles were young, brash, cocky and irreverent and a whole generation well beyond the boundaries of the initial teenybopper female fans embraced them. Few if any parents shared the same sentiment about them.
At first the Beatles shared the limelight with Herman’s Hermits, Dave Clarke Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers and other lightweight artillery in the British Invasion. But soon it was very evident that the Beatles were in a league of their own.
The first time that I noticed that the Beatles had moved well ahead of their British brethren was when I heard Eleanor Rigby and realized, even at 11, that these guys were unlike anything that I had heard on the radio. Here was a band that had quickly evolved well beyond their “Yeah Yeah Yeah” roots into a much more significant sound.
There was nothing typical in the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby. This was a bleak song about invisibility and profound loneliness and it got my attention even at that young age.
After that, the Beatles led popular music wherever they wanted and built a library of music that will reach centuries beyond them. So, if a kid plays an idiotic video game with Beatles music, at least he’s exposed to timeless classics.
And everybody needs to meet the Beatles at some point in their life.
Jim Sutherland may be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com