January 4, 2021

A Collection of Beatle Blasphemy - A Prologue

wow, first post in nearly six years?

Over the past three years I've been writing theatre reviews for DC Theatre Scene, which as of the end of 2020 has gone dark. I plan to re-post my theatre writing on this blog for posterity (or at least until Blogger gets put to pasture), and might as well take the opportunity to start collecting my random musings on music, theatre, film, etc.


Not gods.
I love the Beatles. They are unquestionably the most important pop group of all time, blazed trails, stood at the vanguard of a musical and cultural revolution. They were the soundtrack of my childhood, my parents' scratchy, skippy, cover-less LP's as a wee lad, then on cassette and CD and streaming as I moved into adulthood.

They are also not gods.

Sometimes - a lot of the time, actually - they were not very nice people. And sometimes the music they made was not the celestial music of the spheres. They should be subject to scrutiny and criticism like any other cultural creation, yet seemingly every attempt to embrace or even discuss their shortcomings provokes a backlash from ardent Beatle worshippers. Thus reverent awe is the only acceptable philosophy, and any biography has to be hagiography. The doctrine of Beatle infallibility, it seems, must not be questioned.


Not every song they wrote was brilliant, not every action they took was perfect, and one can simultaneously love the Beatles and their music while embracing their flaws. They were human beings, and I suggest that scrutinizing their music and lives is a useful, even necessary, tool to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of their art. I can simultaneously think that John Lennon was, at times, an utter asshole, and still think Gimme Some Truth is an utterly magnificent song.

I understand that the music of the Beatles is still deeply personal to many, particularly people of my parents' generation, the Boomers, as they were the ones who were the Beatles' primary audience. The Beatles were the soundtrack of that generation's maturation into adulthood: adolescents when they appeared on Ed Sullivan, teens when they went psychedelic, college aged when they broke up. To cast a critical eye on the Beatles can be a very sensitive matter for these folks, and I will try to remain cognizant of this as I post my Beatle musings.

Also, as we have a comprehensive history of their lives to go alongside their music, we can draw parallels between the two. We can see their lives, their struggles, their weaknesses reflected in their songcraft. People also try to do this with Shakespeare, but not having a richly detailed biography to accompany his works can lead scholars and aficionados to the most credulity-straining lengths. Not here. We know, for example, that Paul's relationship with Jane Asher was occasionally strained (they're both around, you can ask them), and we can see that play out in his more sour tracks I'm Looking Through You and You Won't See Me as well as in the optimism of We Can Work It Out.

So with all that being said, gird thy loins and prep thyself for a series I'm calling Beatle Blasphemy.