The Beatles: Not Just for Boomers

Let’s take it back to the 60’s. The music in the 1960’s defined a transition from a lot of jazz, swing, and blues to more of a pop and rock style. Out was the smooth voice of Frank Sinatra and in were The Beatles. A band that a lot of people believe to be overrated and simple— and I can see why people would say that—they defined an era and are deserving of the title of the best rock and roll group of all time.

The Beatles started out with soft pop/rock and had safe, lovey-dovey lyrics that can be found in “Love Me Do”, “Eight Days a Week”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Quite honestly the majority of their songs on their first 4 albums continue with the melodic love anthems.

Then the mid 1960’s happened. To be more specific, drugs happened.The Beatles showed a little bit more of an experimental side on the 1966 album, “Revolver”.

“Revolver” marked a shift The Beatles made towards more psychedelic influenced rock. “Revolver” was different. The album stepped away from the classic Beatles sound and lyrics; there were philosophical looks on life and challenging ideas, such as the album’s opener “Taxman” which criticizes the high tax rate brought on by the British Labour party.

“Revolver” was proof that The Beatles were not the mop headed teenagers that rose to fame in 1962; they had matured. In 1967 The Beatles followed this up with their most iconic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The music is far more complex than anything else they had put out, even “Revolver”.

Sgt. Pepper’s was a turning point for The Beatles. Although they were arguably already past the peak of Beatlemania when the album was released, The Beatles showed that they were not ready to peak and indeed were just beginning to find their voices.

The Beatles planned on never performing live after the release of Sgt Pepper’s, so they were free to create music just for the sake of it. Because of their artistic freedom, Sgt. Pepper’s can be seen as a weird album, I will agree. However, it is ranked as Rolling Stone’s Greatest Album of All Time, for many reasons. The album experiments with different sounds such as alarms, instruments, and vocal effect giving each track a unique perspective on what rock sounds like. Listeners also hear The Beatles being more provocative in their music. In fact, the BBC banned two of The Beatles most popular songs, “A Day in The Life” and “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” due to themes relating to drugs and sex.

As artists, it is essential to evolve. As humans, we evolve whenever we learn a new skill or become more educated, it is the way of life. However, some people do not enjoy when their favorite artists evolve because it may be out of their comfort zone and disruptive to their normal way of life. The Beatles were known for being these well put-together guys and (sorry) more simple songs. So in 1967 when Sgt. Pepper’s debuted, it was a shock.

They had long hair and mustaches and were dressed in vibrant garb, showcasing artistically very different music. They were different from their brand image and sound and Sgt. Pepper’s made it clear that The Beatles future, and rock and roll, would be evolving at an exponential rate.

Basically, what I’m saying is “Revolver” walked so Sgt Pepper’s could run. Sgt. Peppers is so much fun and has almost all uplifting sounding songs about change and reflection, like the song “Within You Without You” that makes you realize The Beatles were more than their more simplistic love songs. It is truly an amazing album with many eclectic sounds that it has to be considered a masterpiece.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was a game changer. The Beatles had many influential albums, but Sgt. Pepper’s will remain at the top. It inspired peace and love, more complex rock music, and also is a perfect example that artists are not supposed to just be put in a box and play by the rules.

The Beatles defined rock. They created the mold and continuously broke it. Rock was changed, as artists followed in their footsteps and began to experiment. Outside of music, The Beatles played a heavy role in Hippie culture as they spread the idea of peace and love.