Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer
When I was a teenager, the biggest musical acts in the world included New Kids on the Block, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice. Right as my teenage years ended, I found myself working as a counselor at a summer camp, where I was exposed to the NEW biggest musical acts in the world, which included N’ Sync, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears. And even as I write this, teenagers the world over are making themselves wet over Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry.
What do all these musical acts have in common? They are all fucking terrible. (“Oh WAIT,” teenagers everywhere are now saying, “You’re right that those first two sets of bands suck…but OUR music is AWESOME! How can you be such an asshole, asshole?” And to that I say simply: If, in ten years, you still proudly listen to ANY of this music, I will go to the concert of your choice, buy an overly priced novelty baseball cap, and eat it.) And how is it that all of these terrible bands were elevated to world fame? That is because their audiences are largely teenagers, and teenagers also all have something in common: they are all stupid.
And I’m not saying that teenagers TODAY are stupid…I’m saying teenagers EVERYWHERE, FOREVER, have ALWAYS been stupid. And that is precisely why I have never bought into this whole “Beatles” thing.
The Beatles, for those of you who don’t know, were the NKOTB of the baby boomer generation. And because baby boomers still rule the world, this band has been shoved down our collective throats for so long that even people who don’t WANT to know anything about them – like me – still nonetheless find our brains full of facts we didn’t even know we learned. This is how I came to know that The Beatles are comprised of four white British guys, fronted by a heartthrob named Lennon McCartney who in later years formed a sexual fetish for Asian amputees.
But this isn’t a Wikipedia page; this is an April Fools’ Week review. And when I was assigned the music of the Beatles, I actually thought it might prove to be a blessing. I mean, maybe there’s something to the whole “Beatlesteria” craze…and I was just avoiding it due to the same musical snobbery that prevents me from ever intentionally listening to Lady Gaga. So I selected Beatles songs at random from their massive catalog, and I wrote down my thoughts below.
Song 1: I Want To Hold Your Hand
If this song is indicative of the rest of The Beatles music…I am in deep trouble.
I’ll overlook the simplistic melody, the shoddy rhymes (Man and Hand? Please…) or the need for constant repetition on a song that can’t get to a whopping two-and-a-half minutes…but I can not get over that it seems to point to the fact that the narrator is a sexual deviant.
It’s all laid out in the first line:
“Oh I’ll…tell you something…I think you’ll understand
When I…say that something’s….I want to hold your hand.”
Now let’s rephrase that lyric slightly.
“Hey…I would like to hold your hand.
Do…do you understand me right now?”
The fact that Lennon McCartney only thinks the lucky lady will comprehend his incredibly sophisticated thought leads me two one of two conclusions:
- The phrase “I want to hold your hand” is some kind of Cockney term for something too indecent to state publicly.
- The lucky lady to whom this statement is directed is too young or mentally deficient to put these words together into a coherent thought.
Whatever the case, it is horrifying. Is this why The Beatles were so popular? They brazenly sang coded songs about sex in the age of female empowerment?
Song 2 – Hard Day’s Night
“And when I get home to you, I find the things that you do
Make me feel all right”
The answer to the above question, it seems, is yes.
Song 3 – Eleanor Rigby
Wow. Just when I started assuming that every Beatles song was clearly about sex, out comes this track, which SHOULD have been!
Eleanor Rigby starts out as the setup of every romantic comedy movie you’ve ever seen: lonely woman who’s given up on love finds a man whose profession forbids it. That’s the setup. But what’s the payoff?
Romanic Comedy: Wacky hijinks ensue, couple hit the sheets, credits roll.
Beatles Song: Woman dies alone, man performs last rites to an empty cemetery, masturbates with dirty hands.
DOWNER!! What a misstep, Beatles!
Song 4 – I Am the Walrus
Song 5 – Come Together
Song 6 – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Song 7 – Let it Be
And with this song, it is clear that we either have the counter-balance to all the pro-fucking material I heard earlier, or the true intent of this entire “Beatles” thing. I am talking, of course, about religious dogma.
Now let’s just assume, for a second, that you are the Catholic Church in the 1960s. If my history education serves me, this was the decade when wars were being fought, leaders were getting assassinated, and kids around the world were staying out of churches in order to frolic on hillsides dancing to bongo drumbeats and weaving flowers into their hair. You (the Catholic Church) are losing your congregation. What would you do?
Isn’t it POSSIBLE that the answer to this question would be to create a band that became an international craze, then slowly subvert the song lyrics until they’re about your religion? Has this not crossed ANYONE’S mind?
“Hey Kids…we know these are crazy times…so here’s some music to help take all our minds off it! Check out this band! They’re teenagers just like you! They sing songs about “love” and animals and driving cars…but they also have hard times just like you. And when THEY find themselves in times of trouble…do you know who comes to them? JESUS’ MOM. Just saying…”
Song 8 – Lady Madonna
I didn’t even listen to this one, but I rest my case.
Song 9 – Octopus’s Garden
At this point in my little Beatles odyssey, I had no idea what I was in for. Was this more subliminal Christianity? Another “wink-wink” hardcore sex song? Or just more random words strung together? I am pleasantly surprised to say that, instead of any of these things, Octopus’s Garden was the first truly wonderful Beatles song I have yet heard.
The music is incredibly evocative of the underwater landscape in which the song takes place. The lead vocals have a rough “everyman” quality that made it immediately relatable, and the lyrics were an enormous breath of fresh air. Check out some of these gems:
I’d Like to Be
Under the Sea
In an Octopus’s Garden
In the Shade
Now a garden, even an underwater garden, must be planted into the ground, which means that this Ocopus’s Garden must exist on the sea floor. The sea floor, unless in VERY shallow water, does not get much sun at all…so the use of the word “shade” here is both unexpected and thought-provoking. What is the alternative to this shade? Why does he want to be there? Why such a specific part of such a specific place? There’s just so much to unpack here!
He’d Let Us In
Knows Where We’ve Been
Who of us hasn’t pined for someone who knows everything we’ve done, but still welcomes us into their life nonetheless?
We Would Sing and Dance Around
Because we Know that We Can’t Be Found
No matter who you are, no matter what you do, there will always be times when you want to run away from the world; where simply being amongst others is the greatest hardship of all. This narrator knows this so well, that he imagines going to the very bottom of the ocean itself, braving asphyxiation and crushing water pressure just to get away from it all, and is so happy by this thought that he wants to sing and dance. Brilliant.
I loved this song so much, I decided to do a bit of research. I mean, if Lennon McCartney wrote this song, then maybe I would need to give the duds I listened to before another shake. Turns out, Octopus’s Garden was written by a Ringo Starr, who tragically has only one other song recorded on a Beatles album. That song, obviously, was my next one:
Song 10 – Don’t Pass Me By
I didn’t think there would be another Beatles song better than Octopus’s Garden. I was wrong.
If Eleanor Rigby was The Beatles hopelessly botched attempt at a romantic comedy…Don’t Pass Me By was the song that finally got it right; a pitch perfect love story that hits all the right notes.
At the start, the narrator is bereft that his love has promised to come to see him, but has failed to show up.
I listen for your footsteps
Coming up the drive
Listen for your footsteps
But they don’t arrive
Waiting for your knock dear
On my old front door
I don’t hear it
Does it mean you don’t love me any more.
Our hero is sad and heartbroken, thinking that this heartless bitch of a woman just up and refused to come to his house when she said she would. But just as any good love story has a happy twist, so to does this song. It turns out, it wasn’t heartlessness that caused her not to show up, it was the aforementioned wacky hijinks!:
I’m sorry that I doubted you
I was so unfair
You were in a car crash
And you lost your hair
Like everyone else, when I heard this lyric, a huge smile of relief passed over my face that remained for hours. I can only hope – and I say this as a married man – that I can find a love like that myself one day.
And with that, my little Beatles experiment came to a close. It is clear to me that they were mediocre songwriters at best (with the notable exception of the brilliant drummer who was forced to remain in the background for reasons I completely fail to comprehend. Hey Beatles…ever hear of Phil Collins?), writing at cross purposes. Perhaps they were sex maniacs as some songs indicate, or perhaps they were shills for the Pope, as others seem to suggest. But I for one suggest that we let this “legendary” band pass once and for all from the public consciousness, and into the teen craze retirement home where they belong.
Keep a bed warm there, Beatles…a certain Mr. Bieber is due to join you any day now.