Monday, October 10, 2005

Please Please Me

I have a difficult relationship with the Beatles. Growing up, I was always a Beach Boys partisan, mostly because my parents like them better and had most of their albums on vinyl. (The only Beatles LP I remember seeing was the White Album, which kind of mystified me.) Plus, "Kokomo" came out when I was in elementary school, and although my friends and I weren't old enough to see the movie it was written for (remember Cocktail?), we loved the song and memorized all the words. Seeing the reunited Beach Boys perform live at a local amusement park put a bit of a damper on my Beach Boy love (60+ year old beach boys + bikini clad go-go dancers=horrifying), but I still remained--and remain--partisan.

But anyways, this quarter I am forced to listen to the Beatles twice a week, in the presence of 140 undergraduates who want both an easy A and the affirmation that the Beatles are The Greatest Band Ever. This should be a recipe for me to hate the Beatles even more, but I am growing oddly ambivalent.

Their downsides:
1. Way too cute for their own good.
2. Single-handedly destroyed the careers of dozens of black r&b artists by giving white America a clean-cut simulacrum of rock n' roll to listen to.
3. Early and unfortunate homophobia and gay-bashing by certain members. (I'm looking at you, John)
4. Some very unfortunate covers early on in their careers.

The upsides:
1. Please Please Me is actually a pretty great album.
2. Their entire image and career was carefully stage-managed by an effete gay Jewish upper-class British manager. Hence the trendy haircuts, Pierre Cardin suits, and the snazzy record contract with EMI.
3. John Lennon and the aforementioned effete gay Jewish upper-class British manager once went on a trip together. Alone. For two weeks. To Spain.
4. It's not really their fault that those early covers were really bad. If I become a famous academic someday, and somebody digs up my high school papers, I would be pretty embarrassed.
5. Point number 2 above is actually much more complicated than it is often represented. But that would be a whole 'nother post.

So we shall see! Downside # 1 still remains however.

1 comment:

Violet Vixen said...

Growing up in the Eighties, I never really felt that I had to like either the Beatles or the Beach Boys and not the other. My favorite Beatles fun fact, and this borders on awesome for me, is that they commissioned Joe Orton, my favorite gay '60s playwright, to write the script for a second movie after Yellow Submarine. What he wrote was too gay and too sexual for them to use, but he has a fascinating gossipy account of partying with them. I have the book if you're interested.