SHE LOVES YOU, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH! WHY THE EARLY BEATLES WERE SO POPULAR.
I was feeling nostalgic yesterday, so I put on some old Beatles records. For some reason, I decided I wanted to hear their later stuff first. So I pulled out their double album ‘The Beatles-1967-70’. You know, the one that everybody’s seen in the record store, where the Fab Four are on a balcony looking down at the camera, which is looking up at them. They of course have an equivalent version for their earlier period, which is red, which covers 1962-66.
I was impressed by just how fresh their music still seems in its complexity and orchestral arrangements, especially the later stuff. But then I put on the earlier red album from 1962-66 and got a major dose of what the Beatles were really about in the early days: The first song on the album was ‘Love me do’ from 1962. The melody and harmonies are just so catchy, yet so simple and minimalist as they repeat themselves over and over that you just can’t help but to sing along. The instrumentation is equally minimalist: Basic drum and percussion, bass, acoustic guitar and harmonica.
As the first two sides of the record progressed, I heard a definite pattern emerging: All of the songs were hopelessly cheerful, happy, and upbeat and spoke of true and undying love in such a youthful, vibrant and innocent fashion that one could not resist being swept up by them. Everything from ‘Please Please Me’, ‘From Me to You’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Want to Hold Your Hand’, All My Loving’, ‘Can’t Buy me Love’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘And I Love her’, ‘Eight Days a Week’, ‘I feel Fine’, to a couple that I thought of later that weren’t on the album, but which were equally positive, such as ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Twist and Shout’.
I said to myself that it was no wonder that the Baby Boomer generation and all others that were to follow for that matter were to become captivated by the Beatles and their truly unique combination of strong melodies, layered vocal harmonies and catchy yet simple guitar arrangements. All the more so because at the time, the world had just suffered the loss of a great leader in the person of President John F. Kennedy, somebody whom many young people and those not so young, considered to be a standard-bearer for their hopes and aspirations for a better life in this world.
The Beatles arrived in America around this time and gave a renewed sense of hope to youth and their generation got swept up in ‘Beatle mania’, perhaps distracting them temporarily from the more sinister games of power and politics which were going on in the world of international affairs, as the western and eastern worlds would increasingly drift towards a collision course over fundamental issues of ideology, money, power, property, prestige and religion in such far off places as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Biafra, Algeria, Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba and so on.
I think most people wanted to believe and still do, that ‘She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah’, or in that simple desire of a boy to tell a girl that ‘I want to hold your hand’. It calls to the very simple and pure nature of love which in today’s world, can so easily become corrupted by issues of work/life balance problems, gender conflict, competition over money, power, control, property, prestige, pornography and so on.
So here’s to nostalgia. I never thought that an old vinyl record would push me to such flights of social commentary on a cold Québec day such as this one, but it just goes to show you that the camera, so to speak is still ‘looking up’ at the Fab Four as they ‘look down’ in admiration from their balcony, upon the body of artwork which they’ve left us and see that indeed they’ve given us ‘All their loving’.