The Best of the Beatles
“It was twenty years ago today / Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.” Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (ibid., 2)
[“… the most famous cover of any music album, and one of the most imitated images in the world.” – Wikipedia]
John, Paul, George and Ringo – what can I say about the Beatles that hasn’t been said a million times and in a million ways before? They perfected their craft in various 60’s nightclubs with grit and determination; and along with raw talent blended with musical genius, they launched themselves onto an unsuspecting public, who would never look at music in the same way again.
The group with the most songs (collectively and individually) on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 ‘Top 500 Songs Of All Time’ – with John Lennon scoring two on the top 10 – recorded yet another milestone: October 5th, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first release, ‘Love Me Do’. Since then, the writing collaboration of Lennon and McCartney has been recognized as the most successful in history.
‘Yesterday’: the most re-recorded song in history (written by Sir Paul McCartney)
‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’: hits that launched them internationally
‘All My Loving’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Help!’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’: songs at the heart of ‘Beatlemania’.
And the hits just kept on coming, such as:
‘A Day in the Life’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Let it Be’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘All you Need is Love’, ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Hey Jude’, and George Harrison’s ‘Something’, (which Frank Sinatra called “… the greatest love song ever written”).
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Legendary albums, like: ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Sgt. Peppers’, ‘The Beatles’ (white album) and ‘Abbey Road’, separately demonstrated a wide range of creative talent.
Their solo hits, after the group’s breakup in 1970, included Lennon’s classic, ‘Imagine’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’ (1969), but after five years off to be with family, his 1980 album (1981 Grammy album of the year) reflected a new perspective on life. It was said of John Lennon that he was a new man, at age forty. A man who had exorcised his own demons… beat the drugs, beat the booze, beat the fame. A family concert tour was discussed; and, it was against this background of renewed hope and optimism that his loss was so acutely felt.
Dec 8, 1980 is one of those dates everyone from the ‘JFK’ generation remembers where they were. I remember watching ABC TV’s ‘Monday Night Football’ telecast when Howard Cosell announced the tragic news that stunned the world: John Lennon shot dead … by a deranged fan. The final irony is that this man of peace died by an unprovoked act of violence.
Elton John’s tribute song ‘Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)’, spoke for a whole generation:
“… a gardener that cared a lot … weeded out the tears and grew a good crop … it all looks strange, it’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain.”
Afterwards, I recall people saying, “Well, there goes my childhood.” I could never understand these feelings because Lennon always maintained that he never really believed in ‘yesterday’: never believed in looking back. In one of his last interviews, he said that the message of the Beatles was to learn to swim and then … swim. When asked what holds people back, he said that it was the fear of the unknown, but because it was unknown, anything was possible. Above all, he encouraged us not to put our faith in “leaders and parking meters”, but instead, to believe in ourselves.
“I don’t really want to stop the show / But I thought you might like to know / That the singer’s going to sing a song / And he wants you all to sing along” .2
Well, I’m still singing, Johnny – while remembering the words of Billy (Ringo) Shears – “with a little help from my friends”.
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My parents wntead me to take a job any job that would let me use my mind rather than my body to earn a living. In particular, my mother felt that I would make a good accountant (I seemed to possess a latent numeracy as a child). I must have disappointed them both. I was a so-so performer in accounting at MBA school, though I contend that accounting was the most useful thing I learned there. Today I’m a professor at a business school (though not in accounting).But I don’t believe in a career, so I don’t expect to be doing this work forever. I would like to run an internal corporate university for a large Canadian company, because I think it would give me the chance to experiment and innovate far more than I can at a real university. But if that doesn’t work, I’d be just as happy selling computers at the Eaton Centre Apple store and being a part-time bike messenger.
As John L. would say … anything is possible.
Best of luck,
he and the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.Shakespeare had a frdneily feud with his contemprary Francis Bacon, author of a work titled Utopia.Lennon had a frdneily feud with his contemporary Bob Zimmermann AKA Bob Dylan, who took the stage name Dylan from poet Dylan Thomas who was a big admirer of Both Shakespeare and Bacon.Bob Dylan, who grew up Jewish and not eating bacon, and he sang folk songs about future utopia.Shakespeare was called the bard of Avon.Lennon eventually grew a bard, or beard.That should give you a good starts.
Thanks for your insights.
Intriguingly, Davies’ book appears to be an open-ended work. He knows that there will be more Lennon-penned texts out there, and he has set up the email address (johnlennonletters@ hotmail.co.uk) in the hope that any custodians of such material will contact him.
While we’re on the Beatles, Lennon & McCartney wrote/published/performed somewhere aounrd 250 songs together. Yesterday is reported to be the most recorded song of all time. There are another 15 that are universally recognized and endearing. Without meaning to anger devout fans, the majority of the rest will probably pass with time. There probably many more that died before birth. Something like one gem in ten (not that different from the ratio of success to failure reported for entrepreneurial startups. A ratio that turns out to be inaccurate, by the way. )It’s a better strategy for both an artist and an entrepreneur to have enough works that one is a hit. Fail fast and cheap and learn.
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