Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beatles Sacrilicious

Ah, let's discuss what some refer to as my Beatles problem - that problem being that they're not my favorite band of all time. This is sacrilege to many, perplexing to those who know of my love for crunchy power pop chords, and confusing to the self appointed critics out there that think I'm too judgemental when it comes to the Mop Tops.

I could go on and on about why I don't like the Beatles as much as I do other groups, but I'm all about brevity today. The tip of the iceberg: I didn't hear the Beatles until I was in 5th grade. By then they had been broken up for more than 6 years. I'm not a baby boomer so I don't attach any nostalgic memories to them. They helped spawn hippies and the wearing of granny glasses. They indulged George Harrison's love of the sitar. They thought they were more important than they were. Ever seen Magical Mystery Tour? 'Nuff said.

Before you bombard me with hate mail (and you do know how much I love to get comments telling me how stupid I am, especially when the comments are misspelled) I will say that I like the Beatles. Heck, I like them a whole lot. Their early sides were raucous joyful rock and roll. Their mid-period era was sublime and artful with Rubber Soul near the top of my best of list. I could do without much of the Sgt. Pepper's psychedelic stuff and afterwards they are truly hit and miss. Do people really like "Come Together" or they just saying they do just to please their peers.

Still I rarely reach for Beatles discs. It's their ubiquitous nature. We're constantly being bombarded with their musical and cultural legacy by the boomers. There's even a new documentary about Lennon coming out soon. So it's not like I ever need to hear them again. Their songs have been burned into my head. It makes me glad my parents weren't baby boomers or I'd have had to spend my entire life under the Beatles. I was raised on Chuck Bery, Elvis, rockabilly, and country artists like Hank Williams and Merle Haggard.

Here's an incomplete list of artists I'd take over the Beatles anyday:

Elvis Presley
Gram Parsons
The Who
Merle Haggard
Hank Williams
Dead Boys
Beastie Boys
Sex Pistols
The Clash
Big Star
Black Flag
James Brown
Run D.M.C.
Otis Redding
Jimi Hendrix
The Jam
Marvin Gaye
Rolling Stones
Van Halen
Beach Boys
Bob Marley
Jerry Lee Lewis
T. Rex
Chuck Berry
Little Richard
Guided By Voices
Black Sabbath
The Replacements
Joy Division
Husker Du
New Order
Patti Smith
The Smiths
Velvet Underground
New York Dolls
Frank Zappa
Captain Beefheart
The Monkees
Michael Hurley

So who would you take over the Beatles? Am I just a crazy, deluded fool? Let me know.


elliott said...

Uh, I think like 57% of your list are boomer-related bands.
The main reason I find that people don't like the Beatles is because they are reacting to the popularity of the group. And that is cool. No one likes to be told that they have to like something. If I had grown up in the 60s I probably would not have liked the Beatles so much. I grew up in the 80s and I don't like Van Halen - not because they sucked but just because EVERYONE liked them. The one thing I don't let people slide with is when they say the Beatles were 'over-rated'. That, to me, is just blind ignorance. If you look at the period between late-1963 and mid-1966 the Beatles circled the world 3 times, made 2 films, dozens of TV appearances, recorded 6 albums AND those albums did not contain many of their 16 #1 singles they also managed to write during that period. In THREE years! Most bands are hard-pressed to make 1 or 2 records in three years.

Wally Bangs said...

Uh, I think like 57% of your list are boomer-related bands.

You got me there Elliot. But none of them save the Stones had the overwhelming cultural impact the Beatles did. It definitely dwarfs anything Van Halen ever did. I generally don't have a problem with popularity too much. I'll admit to liking Abba.

I don't think the Beatles were over-rated. I marvel at the quality of their songs (especially pre-Pepper's era stuff) and the quantity. One thing's for sure, record companies got some work out of their artists back then.

Oh yeah, one band I forgot to mention that I would listen to over the Beatles is like many on the list Beatles influenced: Cheap Trick!

Anonymous said...

One reason some people say they don't like or out right HATE The Beatles is they feel The Beatles ruined the chances of America having a really good "garage punk scene" during that time. Apparently there was some really good music coming from the garages & basements all over America, but then THEY showed up and every band trying to "make it" wound up trying to sound english. I like The Beatles. I like 'em about as much as I like every band I listen to. I get in the mood to listen to them and I do. Just like everything else I listen to. Right now I'm into Weird Al polka medlies!!!