So I never knew much of the Beatles besides what the average person learns listening to the radio.
I just listened to every album in a row on a road trip with a good friend, and here’s a few things I’ve decided.
The Beatles were really awesome. I feel sad that nowadays most discussion of them is hipsters arguing over who was the best Beatle. It’s obvious that take out any one of them, and there is no Beatles.
Where any one would fail, that’s where the others would come in. Lennon and McCartney wrote so many good songs together, filling in for each other, fleshing stuff out. Honestly, I think most of the songs George Harrison did are my favorites. Often I would be disappointed in the song if not for the guitar part.
And everyone needs to back off Ringo. Genius drum parts (like Come Together) are the kind of simple, steady soulfulness that brought the whole thing together. We tend to shut him out because he wasn’t this mad strummer type. Ringo is a genius, he just isn’t crazy. He was normal and people think that’s a bad thing.
I think the first four albums are very good and kinda cute. When Help! came out you started to see a little more depth than just lovey wovey dovey stuff, and Yesterday sticks out like a sore thumb. A really, really gorgeous sore thumb.
Rubber Soul really stands out as a marked change, and then Revolver is the first album that feels like there’s no filler songs. It’s just magic from start to finish.
I think I need to do something about Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery tour, because listening to them in the car just doesn’t quite do it. I really liked them intellectually but at parts it sounded just messy or boring. Loved anything involving the sitar, though.
White Album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be are all just fantastic beyond reckoning. I like George Harrison best on Abbey Road and consider Let It Be a pretty good way to go out. I disagree with Paul McCartney that Phil Spector did a bad job producing it, because even though the album was a return to the old form, modern production techniques make listening to it less distracting.
As much as I’ve learned listening to them, I think in the end there’s a pretty good reason Paul McCartney doesn’t top charts like he did with the Beatles. The chemistry isn’t there, and without that chemistry Paul is kind of cheesy by modern standards. Still, they were the greatest band of the last century and something you gotta grok if you feel you want to write songs someday.