I’ve tried unsuccessfully over the last few evenings to fully summarize my experience with April 2012 Blogging A to Z. There is that much to say. For a full understanding of why I chose to write about the Beatles, you really have to go way back. I have hundreds of memories of Beatles music from my childhood, just a lot of very fun memories. I even remember when I first became aware of who the Beatles were. I happened to be riding with my parents in my Mom’s car at age 6 or 7 when a Beatles song came on. My parents started talking about the Beatles, almost arguing really – my Dad isn’t exactly a fan, and I was lost. I wanted to take sides, but I had never heard of the Beatles before. I just did what all kids do. I asked.
Back then, in the mid-1980s, I don’t think people fully appreciated the Beatles impact on pop culture yet. I still have no idea how they managed to be so far ahead of everyone else. Decades ahead of their time, I think at least some of their music sounds as though it firmly belongs in the 1980s, or in some cases, the 1990s. By the time the Beatles became popular again in the mid-1990s thanks to the Anthology project, I, as a cynical young teenager, relegated them to my early childhood. I really didn’t think much of them at the time or fully realize just how much of their music impacted everything else that came after it.
By the time I was a freshman at Michigan State 1999-2000, everything changed. At the time there was a lot going on in the “alternative” music scene and in pop music generally. For every White Stripes, there seemed to be two Backstreet Boys or a Britney Spears or two. My freshman year roommate, much to my despair, loved the Backstreet Boys. Fortunately for me I became friends with a girl who lived across the hall who loved good music as much as I did. Her little sister joined us in Snyder-Phillips Hall the very next year. The three of us, occasionally joined by a random friend or two, would spend entirely too much time just wandering around a used music store nearby. Normally each of us would end up with a new used CD or two. We’d then go back and share, acting like total goofballs. Somewhere along the line I realized that my love for the Beatles will never really die.
After my freshman year I made a decision that would eventually shape the rest of my time at Michigan State and my life. I decided to spend a good chunk of the summer studying in London through MSU’s study abroad program. It was the first of five study abroad programs I’d complete by the time I graduated in 2004. London was everything I expected it to be – and more. Oddly enough I didn’t take the time to visit any of the Beatles related sites in London – not even Abbey Road – or visit Liverpool. That will have to wait for another day.
As part of the study abroad program I had to create a final research project relating either to art or literature. The project had to have approval of our Professor before we could even begin. My original idea was to detail the influence of the Beatles on today’s pop music, particularly modern pop music in the UK. It pains me to even write the truth because it just shows you how ignorant I was at age 19. My professor kindly suggested that the subject was way too broad. Of course it was, I just didn’t know it at the time. Keep in mind at this time I wasn’t very familiar with the Beatles best works, nor did I know just how innovative they were as most of their innovations are common practice in the early 21st century (think music videos, concept albums, writing original material, etc.).
In the end I decided to compare five different theatrical performances – and nailed the project. I enjoyed spending time in London’s West End and loved every minute of my study abroad experience. Still, I never truly forgot my original idea for the project. I think it might have been in the back of my mind when I decided on a Beatles theme for April 2012 Blogging A to Z.
So, what did I learn from the experience? Well, I learned a ton about the Beatles. I’ve always been a fan, particularly of Paul. Throughout the entire series what struck me most was just how talented they all were – and in the case of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, still are. It is so easy to hinge their success on John Lennon/Paul McCartney, but it became so clear to me that you needed the talents of George and Ringo too to truly account for their success. And speaking of their success, it continues to blow me away. In my opinion, it is all rightly deserved.
I also learned a lot about Paul and Linda McCartney’s relationship, Wings, their family, and Linda’s photography. Now I want to learn more and plan a series discussing those topics at a later date. When it came to John Lennon and his relationship with Yoko Ono, I actually wanted to avoid the subject for the most part. I’m not a big fan of Yoko Ono even though I don’t think she deserves the popular blame for breaking up the Beatles. Well, curiosity got the best of me and I happened to check out her entry in Wikipedia. After watching several interviews, reading the Wiki entry for Yoko, and learning a little about John Lennon’s childhood, I actually feel for her – and for John. It seems as though they tried to make the best out of some very bad family situations. Sometimes it is all too easy to place the blame at Yoko Ono’s feet.
Now that April 2012 Blogging A to Z is over, I still find myself wanting to write about the Beatles or at least add a Beatles song to posts. I love the music, I find the topic endlessly fascinating, and there is always something new to learn. I will always be a fan. It’s just sad to think that it’s unlikely another such talent will come along in my lifetime. I hope everyone enjoyed my posts as much as I enjoyed writing and “researching” them.
Taken from vintage everyday: The Beatles (1964) by Robert Whitaker