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Beatles 66

Steve Turner

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1966 the year the Beatles transitioned from bubbly pop singers of She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah to the serious thinkers of Sgt Pepper.

Greatest musicians are synthesisers - they take disparate threads that have never been mixed, and tie them together into a new possibility.

Before 1966 there was no precedent for a group withdrawing from tours and public appearances to become just a studio band. Until 1966 it was taken for granted that there was an established manual for how pop singers/groups were organised and presented. The tunes came from one org (Brill Building etc), a manager took control and told musos where they would be performing and paid them a small salary, record indy packaged songs and organised publicity campaigns. And above all, a 2 or 3 year lifespan before they became old hat, to be superceded by the next new sensation.

No precedent for a group to take influences from Indian music, Southern soul music, Motown jazz, classical orchestras. The Beatles were imagining a style of music which didn't exist until they came along.

Note how vocab changes - in 1966 still LPs, not yet albums, bands, not yet groups, still pop, with occasionally rock n roll, but not yet rock.

1965 Paul cited 2 musical influences - Bob Dylan's lyrics, as in Positively 4th Street, and the Who's use of backing sound as in My Generation.

"Writing songs and performing are equally rewarding. But the songwriting thing looks like being the only thing you cd do at 60. I wouldn't mind being a white-haired old man writing songs, but I'd hate to be a white-haired old Beatle at the Empress Stadium playing for people."

Until Eleanor Rigby, all Beatles songs were 'I' and 'you' and 'me', bc they'd worked out from their fan mail atht their teenybop audience took the songs as personal messages. But ER chnaged the game. 'Puts on a face that she keeps in a jar by the door' and the loneliness of people who've achieved nothing and connected with no-one.

Caricatures of Misters Cynical, Mystical, Cute, and Funny.

Although pop/rock n roll music was considered rebellious and daring, it actually some clear rules - length of the song, verse/chorus structure, expected types of instruments.

Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe later married Jane Asher.

Marianne Faithful was married to art critic and gallery owner John Dunbar, but shortly after giving birth to son, she left her husband to live with Mick Jagger..." telling the New Musical Express that "my first move was to get a Rolling Stone as a boyfriend. I slept with three and decided the lead singer was the best bet."

The Beatles paid £30 each a month for a subscription that sent them all entries to Billboard charts in America. They got them 3 months before release in UK (and many never released England) so they stayed ahead of what was happening in pop music in America.

They couldn't read music, and had only the most basic technical knowledge of what they were doing, but nevertheless composed music that began with something familiar but then took ther listened somewhere unexpected. And every song made you want to hear it again. They knew they were established enough that they cd bring the fans along with them, stretching the boundaries of 'pop'.

They were fortunate to be part of a circle of innovators that made 'Swinging London' in the 60's - people who cd draw on a wide range of experiences from fashion to art to jazz, American R & B and soul, classical and Indian music, psychodelic drugs.

It was also a time of unprecedented competition - look back now and see that Beach Boys, the Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, all of Motown, were producing their finest work, raising the standards with each new record, and challenging everyone else to surpass it.

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