The Beatles are arguably the most important band in the history of pop music.
They were true innovators in both song writing and using recording techniques that had seldom, if ever, been employed before.
And now — even though only two of the four lads from Liverpool are still alive — the group remains hugely popular several decades after ushering in the British Invasion.
That’s great, right?
Although there’s no denying the appeal of the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney — plus a few gems added by George Harrison — isn’t it a little troubling that much of today’s music just isn’t as good as the stuff the Fab Four cranked out in the 1960s and ’70s?
Plus, aren’t you growing just a little tired of the anything-for-a-buck way in which products associated with the mop tops are being marketed these days?
For goodness sake, The Shopping Channel recently advertised cheesy Yellow Submarine ceramic figures for just a little less than $700 each.
Meanwhile, EMI has released digitally remastered box sets of Beatles albums in both mono and stereo versions for $220 to $260 each. The individual albums are also available for roughly $15 to $30 apiece.
For the videogame generation, Electronic Arts has just put out The Beatles: Rock Band. It allows buyers to play along with the band’s music and even learn a bit of trivia about Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr. It sells for about $250 (with various related products sold separately).
In Las Vegas, you can take in a salute to the Beatles by Cirque du Soleil — called LOVE — for anywhere from US$93.50 to $150 per person.
And, of course, there are countless Beatles T-shirts, posters, DVDs and other collectibles for sale on the Internet and in almost every city in the world. And soon, Beatles digital tracks will be available to download through iTunes.
The two surviving Beatles are expected to enjoy a $1.6-billion payday from their re-released records and the new videogame.
And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.
It surely seems appropriate that Sir Paul and Ringo cash in when less talented celebrities are laughing all the way to the bank.
In any case, the Beatles were apparently always interested in money, although they no doubt started out simply being excited about music.
As far back as the 1960s, they were eager to earn as much as possible and frequently lamented having to cough up so much of their earnings to the government.
Taxman, a song written by Harrison, for instance, was a witty attack on the money the Fab Four were compelled to surrender to the government.
In their song Money, the Beatles sang:
“The best things in life are free
“But you can keep it for the birds and bees.
“Now gimme money (that’s what I want)
“That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
“That’s what I want, ye-ye-yeh,
“That’s what I want.”
And Lennon once said of the Beatles, “The only thing we take seriously is the money.”
Whether he was joking at the time is difficult to say, but there’s no question there’s still big money to be made from Beatles products.
That said, it’s cool that so many people still dig the Beatles.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.