- Like millions of others, I am an unabashed Beatles nut. I sincerely believe that a hundred or more years from now, assuming our species survives itself, people will still be listening to, analyzing and loving that music from the boys from Liverpool. Long after Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Adele and untold numbers of other “stars” are but a footnote in the history of popular music, both music lovers and music makers will be drawn to what the Beatles created.
- How much of a nut am I? I would gladly challenge almost anyone to a Beatles trivia contest and I’m proud to say I can do a reasonable job of playing most of their songs. Not all though – some of that I will chalk up to not being blessed with the wonderful tenor voices they displayed in their prime and I like to play songs in their original keys whenever possible. That usually doesn’t stop me from trying though!
- Two bits of Beatles lore caught my fancy in the past week. One of the big nationally known auction houses is having an entertainment memorabilia auction very soon and there are quite a few Beatles items for sale. Most of us know the recent stories of guitars and drums belonging to members of the group selling for six figures last year. This auction features mostly things like photos, ticket stubs, letters and such. Their premier piece is a 8x10 black and white promo photo in complete Ed Sullivan Show garb, clearly autographed by all four members with a starting bid of $20,000. It is expected to go for much more. A letter from John Lennon’s barber with a lock of Lennon’s hair has a starting bid in the mid four-figures. Don’t think I’d care to own that one but the photo would look nice in my studio (!).
- What fascinates me much more are stories of the group and the individuals in it. I’ve read quite a few books about the Beatles, one of them being “It Was Twenty Years Ago Today,” published in 1987 (duh!) that gives an almost moment to moment overview of the creation of Sgt. Pepper, which many (myself included) consider the greatest pop album ever made.
- My fantasy is to sit down with Ringo or Paul, or better yet, Sir George Martin and ask questions about the process of the creation of their music. Many others have done this of course and written about it but that’s not the same as human contact. Alas, I have about as much chance of that happening as winning Powerball but I still hold onto the fantasy.
- But the other bit from this week could be the next best thing. I happened to stumble upon a relatively recent movie called “Good Ol’ Freda.” It is a documentary about a very modest and special lady. Here is some text from the intro page of the website about the movie:
- “Freda Kelly was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her.
- “History notes that The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. Many people came in and out of the band's circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles' devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution – advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges – of the greatest band in history.
- “In Good Ol' Freda, Freda tells her stories for the first time in 50 years. One of few documentaries with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music, the film offers an insider perspective on the beloved band that changed the world of music.”
- If you are like me and can’t help singing “I Saw Her Standing There” or “Twist and Shout” or “Get Back” or any other Beatles tune at the top of your lungs when you’re driving your car and one of those tunes comes on the radio, do yourself a favor and see this movie!
- At the risk of sounding like the old fart that I probably am, I feel oh so fortunate to have spent my teenage years at a time when so much unbelievably great music was emerging not only from England but also Detroit, Memphis, Nashville, Los Angeles, New York – and many places in between. But on top of it all were the Beatles. In the almost fifty years I’ve been playing, performing and teaching guitar one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed is fully three generations discovering how amazing their catalog is. Why? I’ve wondered about that for a long time.
- I have to conclude that Beatles music combines youthful innocence with daring, innovation (thanks in no small part to aforementioned Sir George Martin) and honesty with pure joy. Yes, the Beatles wrote some sad songs too, but you knew there was no contrivance, no carefully sculpted pop McMusic designed to appeal to a certain demographic that categorizes much of what we hear today.
- And that is why, my friends, I am sure my great, great, great grandchildren will smile and start moving when that D7sus/G chord rings out at the beginning of “A Hard Day’s Night.”
- Peace and good (Beatles!) music,