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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Beatles - the Song Remains the Same!


We walked into the Music Box Theater in Chicago yesterday. Sat down in the room where Ron Howard's "new" Beatles movie was showing. What were we thinking? A little r&r band that broke up in 1970. We knew the story. Many of us know the story. It's our Pop Culture Origin Story. Elvis was the Old Testament, the Beatles the New Testament. Better than the "Greatest Story Ever Told," because really that was just an old recycled myth told again and again - a god born to a virgin, lives, performs miracles, dies, and then resurrects. Happened all the time in the old days - many times, many cultures, over and over again. 

This Beatles thing is the really amazing story. 4 young men from Liverpool England conquer the world playing little pop songs. Look at the hair, the suits, the boots! 4 young men merge into one charismatic ball of energy. Watch all the little girls screaming themselves into ecstatic exhaustion, look at all the little boys deciding it might be a good idea to buy an electric guitar and start a band.

So anyway, we sat and watched the film - everything looking all shiny, and new, and sounding pretty amazing, most probably sonically augmented and enhanced. The Beatles live as you really, really want to hear them. And it is pretty damn good. Still exuberant, still joyous, still fun. A tight little rock & roll band. 2 guitars, a bass & drum. Stunning voices, great harmonies, stellar melodies. The full 30 min Shea Stadium set included at the end of the film.

All those years ago. The Song Remains the Same. What's new this time for me? The joy is mixed with sadness, that time and place is a land far away, never to be seen & heard again. Lennon is gone, Harrison is gone. That little band broke up long ago. You realize many folks you see on screen are long gone. That's the way it goes.

And that old Beatlemania looks pretty crazy. Silly. Quaint. The reaction to those 4 young men seems totally mad. Unexplainable. A sort of mass hysteria. But still there is a kick. An energy bump. That energy bubble surrounding those 4 young men. Pretty extraordinary. And then, when they stopped touring? Their recorded output got even better, the songwriting deeper, more experimental, so creative, so exploratory. Major musical/social/cultural impact. For sure.  Extraordinary. Beatles!

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