The Beatles

About a month ago, I became obsessed with the Beatles. I don’t know exactly how it happened; the seeds had probably been planted a few weeks earlier, when Mad Men used a Beatles song. All I know is, one Friday after work a few weeks ago I decided I wanted to get to know the Beatles better. I only knew their most famous songs; I didn’t know anything about their albums except the first couple of songs on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which my dad bought on tape or CD when I was younger.

So I did an Ask Metafilter search and found this thread about which Beatles album to listen to first, and based on that, I got Revolver — which, incidentally, contains “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the song that appeared on Mad Men.

Later that evening I decided, screw it, I’ll just get all the Beatles albums. The next day I decided to get the mono versions as well, because when I jump into a topic, I really jump into it. I also decided I wanted to read an in-depth book about the Beatles, and I settled on Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America, by Jonathan Gould, which I just finished a couple of days ago. It’s 600 pages and is simultaneously a group biography of the Beatles, an analysis of their musical development, and a sociocultural history of the times in which they lived. It’s terrific.

One thing I had never really thought about before is that Beatlemania in the United States began less than three months after the Kennedy assassination. Gould argues that many young adolescents were deeply affected by JFK’s death and needed new charismatic heroes to replace their youthful, engaging president, and the Beatles came to fill that role.

So over the past month I’ve listened to pretty much all of the Beatles’ music, all their albums, and have come to know them a lot better. There were songs that I vaguely knew before that I now know better. There were some songs that were introduced earlier than I’d thought (such as In My Life, which I’d thought was late 1960s as opposed to 1965).

One of my favorite rediscoveries, though, was a song from their album A Hard Day’s Night. I was listening to the album and this one song started playing and I thought, oh my god, I know this song. I don’t think I’d thought about it or heard it since I was a kid, but it was instantly familiar, like a lightning bolt from the past: If I Fell. I couldn’t place how I knew it; I just knew that I knew it. I heard the song and was instantly connected with some murky memories.

I think it’s one of the Beatles’ most beautiful songs — such unusual, surprising chord progressions. I’ll just end the post with a link to it:

2 thoughts on “The Beatles

  1. Ha, I wanted to learn more about the Beatles after that song was used on Mad Men too, but you’ve taken it a lot further than me. Maybe you should look into that list of covers of If I Fell from Wikipedia?

    I have that feeling from Tomorrow Never Knows, but I know that’s because a cover of it was used in The Craft, which I was obsessed with in 9th grade. Also I loved the song “Setting Sun” by Chemical Brothers from the same year and I just read it’s a tribute to Tomorrow Never Knows.

    Somehow I found out that Tomorrow Never Knows was by the Beatles a few weeks before that Mad Men episode and I was shocked to find out it was so old since it reminded me so much of when I was a teenager. Then when they talked about the Beatles in that episode and used their song, I started reading more about them and bought Revolver too.

  2. Oh, The Beatles! My father listens to them once in a blue moon. (He’s more of a jazz guy.) I’m still not interested with them (like, why are they crossing the Abbey Road) and even if I do, I think your dedication will be unrivaled when it comes to whims like I-have-to-know-more-about-The-Beatles on a Friday night.

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