Monday, February 24, 2014

Ripple Editorial: Why I don't like The Beatles

We don't all have to like the same things. Not everyone likes the Beatles.

I will never understand why people get so bent out of shape when I say I don't like the music of the Beatles. "But the Beatles are the greatest group of all time!" they always scream. Says who? How come? And why should I care? This is music we're talking about, not sports. The Beatles have sold 600 million records. Does that make them the best? Madonna has sold about half that much. Does that mean she's half as good as the Beatles? There is no "best" when it comes to art. There are only two kinds of music - what you like and what you don't. I like a lot of the same music the Beatles were influenced by and a lot of music they influenced. I'm just not interested in their music. Is that so difficult to accept?

I was born in 1967 and wasn't aware of the Beatles while they were active. I have vague memories of them breaking up but was more interested in my tonka toys. My mom really liked Chuck Berry but also loved schmaltzy movie themes and show tunes. Lucky for me I spent a lot of time with my oldest brother Joe who's 12 years older than me. He was a fanatic for the original rock n roll of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers and so on. His real passion, though, was soul music. It was such a thrill hanging out in his room hearing him play James Brown, the Temptations, Booker T. & The MG's, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield. We'd get jacked up on sugary breakfast cereal and be glued to the TV every Saturday morning to watch Soul Train. Being able to watch these giants in real time during their prime left a huge impression. One of my parents must have been a member of the Columbia Record Club because there were albums by Miles Davis, Johnny Cash and Dave Brubeck (all Columbia artists) in the house.

At some point the music of the Beatles came on my radar. Between my three older brothers there were copies of Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, the White Album, Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road around. I loved songs like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Yellow Road" as a kid but didn't consider it serious music like "The Theme From Shaft." As I started discovering my own music - mainly Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent - I had zero interest in Beatles albums. That lack of interest continues to this day.

Getting drunk and antagonizing Beatles fans in bars used to be a favorite past time of mine but I had to quit that years ago. It was a total waste of time and beer. The Beatles, sports, politics and religion are topics I try to avoid at all costs. I really don't know why their fans are so hell-bent on converting everyone to Beatle-mania.

Tastes change and evolve over time. I remember buying Our Man In Paris by Dexter Gordon and not being that impressed with it. A few years later I put it on and couldn't believe how great it was. I like Mercyful Fate more now than I did in the 80's. So occasionally I'll revisit things that I really don't like - The Beatles, coffee, mayonnaise, the Rolling Stones, etc - and give them another shot. I can certainly understand the appeal of the Beatles for a lot of people but they're just not for me.

So there. I've tried more than once. Leave me alone. It's not like I force other people to listen to Venom or Bob Wills when they're trying to have a mellow Beatles brunch party.


Now can we have a beer and listen to Psychedelic Shack together and have a good time?



Anonymous said...

John Waters said the Beatles ruined rock n roll.

Anonymous said...

Being born the same year, you've hit the nail on the head, Woody. I also got a chuckle out of the rather vague Floyd Anderson reference: "d'eeaaauuggggghh, sugary theerealz!!"


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