What Made the Beatles Music Different?
The Beatles were one of the greatest and most influential British bands to ever perform in the 20th century. Starting in 1964, the Beatles were extremely popular because of introducing innovations into popular music and also being able to effectively communicate their ideas and creativity to a large audience. It is stated that, the Beatles’ success was very much a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. This shows that after the band got together, they became even more influential. This was due to the band having already playing together for five years in Liverpool. John Lennon was a man who was very intrigued by rock & roll in the 50’s and in high school he started a band by the title of the Quarrymen. After that, in 1957, the Quarrymen had added another guitarist by the name of Paul McCartney. After awhile, it was reported that another guitarist by the name of George Harrison also joined the band. This group of guitarists had changed their name from the Quarrymen to the Silver Beatles and then released the Silver from their name in order to just become the Beatles (all music).
Paul McCartney had nine number one singles and seven number one albums during his twelve years of his solo career. Paul McCartney was a member of the band called Wings after breaking off with the Beatles. McCartney had a successful individual career even after being the first one to leave the Beatles. George Harrison was part of a group called the Rebels before meeting Paul McCartney to form the Beatles. Harrison was known for his reserved character and even in his music, the audience could see his personality reflected in his music. It is stated that:
With the introduction of psychedelics, spirituality, and Indian music, in the mid-’60s, George’s horizons expanded considerably and he started to come into his own as a musician, releasing a pair of experimental albums on Apple’s Zapple offshoot before settling into a songwriting style that spliced Dylanesque introspection with his natural pop grace, while also developing a unique slide guitar technique that owed nothing to the blues. For George Harrison, a lot of his influences came from the mystic arts, which ultimately led the group to visiting India. (allmusic)
This shows us that out of the three guitarists, Harrison had a very unique perspective on his music and added certain cultural details to his music to stand out during performances.
John Lennon was involved in many other activities besides rock & roll which made him a popular figure. Lennon was involved with revolutionary politics along with television talk shows. Lennon was known to create inspired, brutally honest confessional songwriting and melodic songcraft; he also had an undying love of straight-ahead rock & roll (allmusic). John Lennon throughout his career explored different avenues and left an undeniable legacy not just as a musician, but also as an actor, writer, and activist.
One of the most well-known albums by the Beatles was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album was released in 1967 and remained number one for the remainder of the year. When looking at the development of music, this album is known for mixing different cultural elements into the music and performances without making it sound forced. Time magazine called this album, a historic departure in the progress of music (K.C. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). This album was made so that the different techniques of song production could be put on display such as the writing, the graphic design, and allowing for cultural representation to be combined with popular music and high art. Paul McCartney had come up with the concept for Sgt. Pepper. The composition for this album was inspired by the Beatles’ youth and this allowed the band to use innovative technology during the recordings of the songs. The idea for this album came when the band was in London returning from Kenya. They wanted to create an album that would create an alter ego. This album was different from others because the technology used created a crossfade effect on the album so that the individual listening to the album would hear this and would come to the conclusion that this is continuous music without any gaps in between the songs. Along with this, the producers mentioned that more time was spent overall on the mono mixes compared to the stereo mixes (Reising). It is reported that for the first Beatles album, it cost 400 euros to produce and it cost 25,000 euros to create Sgt. Pepper. This album was the first of its kind where all the songs listed were exactly the same for the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, this album was on top of the Record Retailer charts for nearly the remainder of the year of its release. It has been reported that over 250,000 copies were sold in the United Kingdom just within the first week. Along with record sales, people like Langdon Winner mentioned:
The closest Western Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was the week the Sgt. Pepper album was released. In every city in Europe and America the radio stations played it. and everyone listened. it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard. For a brief while the irreparable fragmented consciousness of the West was unified, at least in the minds of the young. (Riley 205)
This shows us that Sgt. Pepper was truly a remarkable piece of work that will stand out for centuries to come and really stand out in the evolution of music especially when it comes to rock & roll. This album, as a matter of fact, had such an impact that it made people come closer together in order for everyone to experience the common love for the musical culture during the era of the Beatles. On American radio, the album would play non-stop just because of the popularity and the magnitude of the album was so great on the people during that era of music.
One of the greatest songs by the Beatles was With a Little Help from My Friends. This song is from the album Sgt. Pepper and was made with the other songs of the album. This song is about friendship and true love. The listener is experiencing questions being asked to the main singers and the singers responding with an answer. This song was meant to provide a sense of community and inclusivity in such a way that when those specific questions about friendship and love were being asked, anyone was free to go ahead and answer the question as well. It was reported that in this song, one of the verses, Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends. Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends. Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends was referring to drug use. The use of friends was a reference to illegal drugs which was not necessarily the case. This song uses a double-plagal cadence. This is when two chords finish up a section or a certain piece of music. This technique is supposed to create a sense of completion at the end of a song (all music). This song has a very impactful ending because all three guitarists; McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon, encouraged the main singer to end off with a vocally high note, which also assisted in transitioning to the next song.
Did you like this example?