Released in 2000 and breaking all sales records, it is a compilation of all of their number one hits from the U.K. and U.S. from 1962 to 1970.
It does not include all of my favorite Beatles songs, but it does cover the most universally popular from “Love Me Do” and “She Loves You” to “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be”. It ends appropriately with “The Long and Winding Road”. All of the songs in between just serve to show a creative metamorphosis that is rarely seen in music.
I was a child when they showed up on Ed Sullivan; we were actually warned by the staff at our Catholic elementary school to avoid the show. They were sure this was the beginning of the end of civilized society as we knew it. That made it so much more tempting, and of course, we all watched.
Up until then, the music of choice in my community was R & B; the Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson. My first impression was surprise. These guys didn’t dance to the music of unseen artists ; they played their own instruments on stage. In the early 1960’s, that was not a given.
The hair was unique, as were the matching continental suits. I didn’t understand the crying, screaming female fans; but even at a young age, I could tell that something special was about to happen.
We saved our coins, bought the 45 rpm records, became lifelong fans. We all grew up with their music. The writing reflected the world we knew, and I can’t remember a decade that was so very diverse. Love songs to psychedelic; they covered a generation of change.
And how they could introduce instruments to pop/rock music; from full orchestra in “Eleanor Rigby” to brass in “All You Need Is Love.” From the sitar, the moog synthesizer, the harpsichord, harmonica and even the cowbell; they used it all.
They revolutionized popular music, they changed the way we looked at lyrics. They even fabricated a clever “Paul is Dead” campaign, using clues on their cover art to keep us guessing, and generate renewed interest in their older albums; a bit of marketing genius that was credited to John Lennon.
Maybe an act like this only comes once in a lifetime. We’ll see what the next generation has to offer.