REVOLUTION AND THE BEATLES
Written, Compiled, & Edited
It [music and poetry] would be harmless...were it not that little by little,
this lawless spirit gains lodgment and spreads imperceptibly to manners
and pursuits; and from thence with gathering force invades men's dealings with one another, and next goes on to attack the laws and the constitution with wanton recklessness, until it ends by overthrowing the whole structure of public and private life.
- Plato /The Republic
Revolution and the Beatles [desktop published, 106 81/2 x 11 pages]
The purpose of this book is to emphasize the Beatles' contribution to the transformation of our consciousness as a social phenomenon through their music and charisma. Their aesthetic, personal, and social influence influenced standards and values that led to a burgeoning of personal freedom unheard of in such a world wide scale before their arrival. This personal freedom was a necessary stage out of the confines of psychological repression before the next stage could be taken toward a self-freedom, which John Lennon , and which is slowly happening now everywhere.
The purpose of this book , "Revolution and the Beatles," is to emphasize their contribution to the transformation of our consciousness as a social phenomen-on through their music and charisma. Their aesthetic, personal, and social influence influenced standards and values that led to a burgeoning of personal freedom unheard of before their arrival. This personal freedom was a necessary stage out of the confines of psychological repression before the next stage could be taken toward a self-freedom, which is slowly happening now everywhere, and to which the human-transcendent wisdom is contributing.
We might say, then, that the Beatles spearheaded a revolution toward personal freedom; and that the human-transcendent wisdom is spearheading a transfor- mation toward self-freedom. Thus the title of the book, of which the following passages are selections: Revolution and the Beatles.
As a defensive note: I do not say that the Beatles started this revolution, con- sciously or unconsciously; but that they spearheaded it; since all the ingredi- ents from other sources paved the way for their contribution. Similarly, with this transformation. The human-transcendent wisdom is not starting this transfor- mation; it is just giving it a semantics, a unifying structure, and a guidance.
This book is a compilation of first-hand accounts of how the Beatles spear- headed the social and cultural revolution of the Sixties with their music and charisma. These edited passages are taken from published articles, inter- views, and books by journalists, musicians, Beatle historians, etc selected published writings and depict the Beatles leading role in the sweeping youth movement of the sixties -- a movement that turned into a social-cultural revo- lution through to the mid-Seventies. This approximately 10-year revolution served as the precursor to the conscious transformation that has been slowly developing since the eighties. The Beatles role in general was the expression of an effervescence that freed millions to be themselves regardless of convention and rebuke.
An introductory essay by the editor -- myself -- discusses the magnitude of this revolution.
OPENING COMMENTS FROM THE BEATLES THEMSELVES
1. We were honest with each other and we were honest about the music. The music was positive. It was positive in love. They did write we all wrote about other things, but the basic Beatles message was Love. Editor's note: Notice that Love is capitalized , which takes its meaning far beyond romantic love. There is a transcendent element in his point about Love. See also, Ringo's statement regarding this same point Paul made.]
2. I'm really glad that most of the songs dealt with love, peace, understanding. There's hardly anyone of them that says: 'Go on kids, tell them all to sod off. Leave your parents.' It's all very 'All you need is love' or John's 'Give peace a chance.' There was a good spirit behind it all which I'm very proud of. Anyway...It were a grand thing, the Beatles.
3. I do these songs still: 'Let It Be' and the like. And to actually see young kids crying over the spirit in the song. I'm very proud of that. It could have gone another way. I say to people, 'Hey, if The Beatles were really bad, we could have played Hitler's game. We could have got kids to do anything, such was our power.
4. I think we gave some kind of freedom to the world. I meet a lot of people who say the Beatles freed them up ...I think we set free a lot of people who were blinkered, who perhaps were starting to live life along their parents' authoritarian lines.
1. I think we gave hope to the Beatle fans. We gave them a positive feeling that there was a sunny day ahead, and that there was a good time to be had, and that you are your own person and that the government didn't own you. There were those kinds of messages in a lot of our songs.
1. We were honest with each other and we were honest about the music. The music was positive. It was positive in love. They did write -- we all wrote -- about other things, but the basic Beatles message was Love.
2. I feel now, on reflection, that we could have used our power a lot more for good. Not for politics, but just to be more helpful. We could have been some bigger force. It's an observation, not a regret - regrets are useless. We could have been stronger for a lot more causes if we'd pulled it together.
1. I think the Beatles were a kind of religion and that Paul epitomized the Beatles and the kind of things that were a hero image more than the rest of us, in a way. He was more popular with the kids, girls and things like that.
2. Changing the lifestyles and appearance of youth throughout the world didn't just happen, we set out to do it; we knew what we were doing.
3. I think the Sixties was a great decade. I think the great gatherings of youth in America and in the Isle of Wight might have just been a pop concert to some people but they were a lot more than that. They were the youth getting together and forming a new church, as it were, and saying, 'We believe in God, we believe in hope and truth and here we are, 20,000 or 200,000 of us, all together in peace.'
The Beatles! What can be said of them? They blazed unto a generation like sun gods. In them the magic of music fused so dynamically with the magic of personality that society opened at its seams. Through their music, manner, appearance, and dazzling presence, they radiated an abandon, an innocence, a gaiety, an irreverence, that mesmerized millions upon millions of the young and not a few adults. They were frivolity incarnate, casting an illusion of a care-free-world-come-true. The following excerpts from press conferences of their early fame convey the charm of their wit in a hitherto drear, dispirited world:...
And for the times, the Beatles were the magic that mainly initiated the "vast social revolutionary movement", upheaval, of freedom, peace, love, and magic and nightmare! for those who resisted, resented, and suffered from this youth movement of song and ideals. Nonetheless, for countless millions they were a celebration, a breath of fresh air breezing through a stuffy room. What they sang, said, did, or wore, made news and served as examples to be followed. They traveled to India to study meditation and the sitar, and thereupon popularized Indian philosophy-religion and music in the West. they embodied a freedom of creativity, expression, action. And this free spirit spread like a contagion that not only helped release many of the traditional shackles binding the young, but also helped bring them into prominence as persons in their own right.
In keeping with this social emergence, American rock and folk music took its own course; and with its personalities, contributed in no small way in reshaping the attitudes, manners, and morals of the young and many of their elders. Long hair, loose, colorful, disheveled, or outlandish dress, sexual permissiveness, psychedelic drugs, communal living, rock festivals, political and social activism; the idealisms of love, peace, freedom, anti-materialism, universal brotherhood and equality, spiritual enlightenment all these and more came into vogue as representative of the new youth movement: the counterculture, as it came to be known in its beginnings.
In our times, a Christian author, David Noebel, who effectively represents the segment of conservative Christian traditionalists against what they deem as the nefarious effects of rock music, deplores such music as decadent, destructive, and satanic; including the sexually perverted, drug addicted, barbaric lifestyles of its musicians. For him, this music has polluted, and continues to pollute, the minds of countless young people who would otherwise be morally and religiously sound. And he has the evidence to prove his case -- his one-sided case, that is:
"America's youth are bombarded with bizarre themes rhythmically hidden within the rock 'n' roll cultural matrix. Lennon and the Beatles supplied this receptive pop culture with lyric approval for dirt, drugs, and social rebellion.
"Formerly taboo perversions and the occult spice up their songs or the songs of their followers.
"The assault on Western values has been absolutely fierce. It is moral war! The undeclared battle to subvert the values of our youth is without parallel, so far as I know, in the history of the world.
"Neither John Lennon nor his legacy is ethically attractive. John Lennon was a purveyor of moral trash, a drug connoisseur, a driving force of the revolution...."
"The present rock 'n' roll scene (1982), Lennon's legacy, is one giant, multi-media portrait of degradation, a sleazy world of immorality, venereal disease, anarchy, nihilism, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, death, Satanism, perversion, and orgies."
Such is the topsy-turvy world confronting us in our day. And did the Beatles incite it all. Of course not. For one thing, it was the intellectual, liberal, and affluent conditions and social consciousness of the times that produced the Beatles, and made it possible for the young to make such strides as they did. As far as the musical influence of this youth revolution was concerned, it started with the rhythm and blues of the blacks, and wove its way through rock and roll where the fuse was lit by the popularity of Elvis Presley; and with him, you might say that the youth culture began. The explosion came with the Beatles. Certainly they did not consciously set out to turn our culture inside out -- or did they?
THE EFFERVESCENT REVOLUTIONARIES
Joe Walsh / singer
What happened was, I was in the living room and my radio was on the refrigerator in the kitchen. And I heard this music coming into the room and I went "Uh-oh. Everything's changed now!" That was my basic statement to myself: "Everything's changed now! Something has happened." And it was "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
Allen Ginsberg / poet
They had, and conveyed, a realization that the world and human consciousness had to change.
Bob Dylan / singer-lyricist
John and the Beatles were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid. Everybody else thought they were for the teenyboppers, that they were gonna pass right away. But it was obvious to me that they had staying power. I knew they were pointing the direction where music had to go.
Brian Wilson / singer/lyricist of the Beach Boys
It was the biggest musical event ever in history. It had the characteristics of God. God's presence on that stage took the form of four boys. ...Their gift: They write better lyrics than hardly anybody does.
Abbie Hoffman, political activist
[Sgt. Pepper] summed up so much of what we were saying politically, culturally, artistically, expressing our inner feelings and our view of the world in a way that was so revolutionary.
From A Day In The Life, Mark Hertsgaard
1. The essence of the Beatles' message was not simply that the world had to change, but more importantly, that it could change. There is nothing particularly original about thinking that things should be different...The truly radical first step is believing it can actually happen. In their public statements and their music, usually subtly and implicitly, the Beatles proclaimed that it was indeed possible to break the old patterns and forge a kinder, more peaceful reality, that it was important to car not just about the war in Vietnam but about other man-i festations of evil, and that it was important to try to do something. It was up to you which is to say, all of us to make changes, and you could do it. That mes-sage resonated deeply and powerfully in the mass psyche, for it put people in closer touch with their higher selves and made them feel part of a larger pro- ject of human renewal. The Beatles, in short, brought out the best in people, which is a large part of why so many people cared, and still care, so passion- ately about them.
2. The Beatles' music "has cut through differences of race, age and class [and]is adored by the world," as Derek Taylor put it in 1964, is that it touches the essence of what it is to be human. Lyrically and musically, the songs of the Beatles both invoke and convey the joy, sorrow, struggle. laughter, wisdom, anger, love, fear, and other emotions and experiences that make up the human condition...LSD guru Timothy Leary sounded silly in the late 1960's when he called the Beatles young gods incarnate who had been dispatched to earth to lead humanity to a new evolutionary stage, but his underlying point was not so outlandish. The music produced by the collaboration of the Beatles was, as they themselves recognized, something bigger than the four of them. When John, Paul, George, and Ringo all came together, they seemed to enter another dimension, as George Martin put it, and become a vehicle for whatever higher force is out there, urging us all on....But however one explains it, the Beatles tapped into the deepest, truest aspects of being human. and in so doing, they, like all great artists, put the rest of us in touch with the divine....
From Time / September 22, 1967
1. Considering that the Beatles' trademark is offbeat irreverence their effect on mature audiences is oddly amusing. If the teeny-boppers made the Beatles plastic gods, many adults make them pop prophets, and tend to theorize solemnly, instead of seriously, about their significance....And there is still the hardy minority that insists on viewing the Beatles as the great put-on of the century.
From National Review, April 1971
1. A letter from a spirited and incisive correspondent on the West coast has cost me the better part of a day. ..."I send you , untouched by human hands issues 74 and 75 of Rolling Stone that carries the complete interview with John Lennon, running to some thirty thousand words.
"These sheep-witted Beatles, fawned on and reverently looked up to by most of the young across the earth, although their dispositions are as mean as their intelligence and their morals are as base as their lineage, I make so bold as to suggest that they started it all, and have dealt Western Society such heavy blows that it will be a century in recovering, if in fact, it ever does.
"These men are not innocents - they are sophisticate scoundrels capable of the most swinish behavior and their influence poisoned the headwaters of the Sixties and we now see that trickling stream of history as it gathers and deepens and broadens and rolls its mighty tides of drugs and antinomian attitudes, now already engulfing what remains of civilization in a few walled towns. I am led to believe that what I am sending you is a historic document."
Because my friend believes, after all is said and done, in the virtue of moderation, he adds the P.S.,"There are north-west winds today, and the horses are restless - also my 51st birthday-tomorrow will be better." well, I have read all thirty thousand words, and I also hope that tomorrow will be better, having no alterative: despair is a mortal sin. despair is very nearly what the reading of this gargantuan interview brings you to.
From The Beatles Reader, edited by Charles P. Neises
1. The Beatles love what they do, so they love themselves. The screaming girls love the Beatles, and the Beatles are the receptacle or container of their love. They also resemble the Greek god of love, in the sense that Kierkegaard speaks of him:
It is a genuine Greek thought that the god of love is not himself in love, while all others owe their love to him. If I imagined a god or goddess of longing, it would be a genuinely Greek conception, while all who knew the sweet unrest of pain or of longing, referred it to this being, this being could know nothing of longing.
But the Beatles not only embody love, they are the Incarnation of Love. As Kierkegaard writes:
In the Incarnation, the special individual has the entire fullness of life within himself and this fullness exists for other individuals only is so far as they behold it in the incarnated individual. (From Immediate Stages of the Erotic)
The Beatles are as extraordinary as they are because they not only represent Love but also contain the "entire fullness" of Love within themselves. They are thus an embodiment and container of Love, and they are also the Love which they contain. There is no one there at all but themselves.
From The Lennon Companion / Joshua Rifkin, On the music of The Beatles
1. The Beatles revolutionized the very molecular structure of pop music, transforming a language of strong appeal but apparently limited resources into a viable means of subtle artistic expression. They have created the first popular music that not only sustains detailed analysis but even demands it. Their unprecedented richness and structural depth have lent consistency and strength to their always surprising development: each successive product has not only brought a new advance or refinement but also confirmed the clarity, the force and the fascination of the music of The Beatles.
Thank God for The Beatles, by Timothy Leary, Harvard psychologist, and foremost spokesman of the psychedelic and LSD culture of the Sixties and Seventies
Obeisances to the Four Divine Gurus...
This essay is a logical exercise designed to prove that the Beatles are Divine Messiahs. The wisest, holiest, most effective avatars (Divine Incarnate, God Agents) that the human race has yet produced.
My thesis is a simple one. I declare that John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr are mutants. Prototypes of a new young race of laughing freemen. Evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with mysterious power to create a new human species.
From the Beatles Forever, by Nicholas Schaffner
[They were] the most remarkable cultural and sociological phenomenon of their time. During the 1960's they seemed to transform, however unwittingly, the look, sound, and style of at least one generation. They had, of course, a lot of help from a great many friends but it was more than anyone else, John, Paul, George, and Ringo who set in motion the forces that made a whole era what it was, and, by extension, what it is today.
"I Wanna Hold Your Head," Andrew Kopkind / Ramparts, April 1971
1. The myth of the Beatles was a seed-dream of the '60's. From it grew the rock religion to which massed millions now adhere. In most respects it is a complete cult, with a pantheon of gods, demi-gods, angels, priests, and sacrificial virgins installed to cater to the range of passions and needs. it is also big business, of course, as every true religion must become. In time, the roster of divinities grew long, but the Beatles retained the central throne. they claimed that they had superceded the old superstar, Jesus Christ, and for their adherents they were right. Then, as gods will, they fell to jealous fighting among themselves and went their ways, their divinity still more or less intact.
The Beatles With Lacan: Rock'n'roll as Requiem for the Modern Age by Henry W. Sullivan
1. Their outstanding music placed them in an unprecedented position of authority from which to influence cultural phenomena that were not strictly associated with the world of popular music. But my larger thesis is that they presided over an epochal shift comparable in scale to that bridging Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages, or the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Beatles became their own historical example for vindicating such a thesis.
Meet the Metaphysical Beatles: Vanguards of the Revolution
1. Let us examine the nature of the soul agreements binding the four young men constituting the Beatles. An agreement was formed before their births to blend their disparate energies into a unified gestalt serving as the primary revolutionary trigger for the Sixties. That is, in order to avoid the catastrophe of a culture suddenly collapsing as its cosmological pillars crumble – as western society's core value of separation violates natural law and must lead to cultural disintegration – a trigger was needed to ignite the revolutionary fires of incendiary social change. The need was urgent for an irresistible force to wrest young people away from the values of their elders and larger culture, to enlist them as foot soldiers of revolution.
"Billboard", Los Angeles, CA, December 20, 1980
[The Beatles] proved music could be more than notes, that it could be noteworthy. It no longer mattered whether it had a beat. It now carried a message. The Beatles wrote the themes for a generation of change. They tried to explain that generation and the revolution in attitudes it created.
"What Made Them So Fab?" , Robert, Hilburn / LA Times, 11-12-95
The legacy of the Beatles, however, is best measured in their music's continu- ing ability to enthrall new legions of listeners. For these fans, the magic of the Beatles doesn't grow out of a generational bond-it springs solely from the music.
In retrospect, there was no reason to be surprised. The Beatles' music has been touching us in deep and endearing ways for more than 30 years, It challenge and comforted, amused and amazed us. It is ultimately where the ideals and dreams of the '60's are best preserved.
Who would have imagined?
US Weekly, Sept. 18, 2000
John Lennon, Paul McCartney; George Harrison and Ringo Starr changed everything. They transformed not just pop music but pop culture, simply by being themselves. Yet at the height of the frenzy of Beatlemania that began when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" topped the U.S. charts in Jan. 1964, they probably would have laughed at the idea that their fresh-faced images--30 years after their breakup, 20 years after John Lennon's murder--would still be beloved by everyone from tattooed teens to baby boomers' elderly parents.
The Beatles followed their creative whims, always with groundbreaking--and commercially viable--results. In the 1960'S, they helped fuel the drug-drenched revolution of social and political consciousness that reverberates to this day. Everything they did seemed to open doors no one had even noticed were there, allowing an entire generation safe passage into uncharted territory.
British invaders though they were, the Fab Four purely embodied the American dream: average, working-class kids transformed through hard work, smarts and perseverance into the undisputed, yet humble, emperors of rock & roll. Their extraordinary adventures and fame were beyond most people's experiences, but the music was absolutely human. The Beatles Anthology, being published in October, is an oral and photographic history of their life in the band As Paul McCartney ruminates in the book, "The basic thing in my mind was that for all our success, the Beatles were always a great little band Nothing more, nothing less."
From "Intimate Portrait: Yoko Ono" / Lifeline/ video, 1995
1. In the mid-sixties, the Beatles were at the height of their charismatic power, and they were having an inebriating effect on a whole generation. This was more than music; this was a movement. John Lennon was redefining pop culture with his every move.