In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com (edward s. chen) writes:
>In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com
(Jeffrey J Eberting) writes:
>>Well, chalk up another one. And I'm glad to see this thread continuing
>>despite the protests along the way.
>In order to be a thread, it needs to have some content. The extension
>which has started up (ie: "Do younger fans perceive the Beatles and
>their catalogue diiferently than older fans") is worthwhile. A
>list of "me too's" isn't, and is better handled by a single person
>taking responses via mail, and summarizing for interested parties.
Even with a summary, who'll win this time?
Will it be youth, possessed of blessed innocence, or age, burdened by excessive wisdom? :-)
It's not a real contest, alas for those of us rooting for one side or another. There isn't one side that's going to win the battle of the True Fabs Fans, try as we might to hoist our respective banners (or our birth certificates).
How can there be one true vision, one ultimate reality, of Beatles experience? Each generation is bound to have the same sense, in making sense of what was either ancient history (for our younger brethren) or pulsing, relentless, timeless historical immediacy (as this relatively ancient fan can say from her own experience).
It's a burden sometimes, not being young. I swear every time I hear "All My Loving" or "For No One"---or any song those mellifluous moptops sang---it's as if it was just released yesterday...no pun intended. You don't think that's an impediment---hearing each song as if it were new? Try developing some objectivity about music of the nineties! Or try talking about the Beatles as if they were just another music group from the sixties....
Age has its handicap, believe me.
Seemingly, people of a certain age---those who reached their teens during the sixties' sacred borders, and who are marked by its aura--- absorbed the Fabs' influence magically and profoundly. They wear its brand, its pattern, almost as medal. I've often wondered if you could see it encoded in our minds somehow, like whorls of wear on our faces.
Try to explain to your children (if you have any) or indifferent younger colleagues (if they'll listen) how it was that the Beatles changed your life, not merely established your ponderous preference for a particular style of song.
It's not merely a *liking* for the Beatles or their music that makes our inner flame so incendiary. It's not a predilection: it's an epiphany, a state of satori, and if you have to say it in rough language (it *will* be rough), all you can say is that somehow this foursome's work transformed the way you listen to *all* music.
But can't that happen at any age? If the Fabs are truly transcendent, oughtn't they light fires in listeners who are two, or twelve, or twenty-two, as well as those antique souls slouching toward their fifties, waiting to be reborn? :-) Or is it inevitable that some meta-experience of the music could only be captured through the real-time evolution of its birth and fruition? Thus the egregious (but perhaps inarguable) "You had to be there."
Don't argue logic here.
There's no logic to Beatlemania...never has been. Maybe that's partly what's made it so long-lasting, so visionary. But when has it ever been that art speaks to the logical mind before it hits the soul? You stand before a painting and you know almost instantly whether you like it, whether it awakens something inside you...and you know this, more miraculously, before you can cogitate over its Deeper Meaning.
You know it, incidentally, no matter what your age. Poetic/romantic tradition tells us, after all, that the embryonic fan of art has the best chance to catch its seminal spark, the message that engendered its meaning before it was hung with critical theory. I hate to invoke a truism, but there's some relevance here. Those who rely on their unschooled intuition, unaffected by a preponderance of critical maturity, will find more in heaven and earth than they expect to see.
Before you can figure out if you *ought* to like a work because it was made by a Great Artist, you already know intuitively whether or not it moves you. That's what matters at the most basic level. Whether or not there's an art critic standing by your side, you know by that visceral punch that you're in the presence of something truly profound.
This is the wisdom of youth speaking with its voice.
Does age or innocence make us more receptive to such profundity? Or more blind? Is there some spirit in the young that lets them feel the Fabs' harmonic farrago without translating its musical fury into preprocessed superanalytical pap, as age is wont to do?
The worst type of profundity *is* overdone. And it often results in tragedy. A work that was once eloquent is taught to schoolchildren by rote, stripped of its passion and beauty. How many high schoolers can look at Shakespeare and see the power of the language? Who seeks wisdom in Dickens or Dostoyevsky? Alas for the young. Poor beleaguered teachers couldn't cope if their charges erupted with the inner light of inspiration. What is profound is dead; and the only way you'll know its truth is through the way you're taught taught to underline "important" bits; or by heavyhanded footnotes; or by logy critiques from literary "experts".
Heaven help the Fabs if we oldsters should lead the young down this pernicious path! Sometimes age can kill youth's burgeoning passion for the very thing we hope they'll love.
And what of the Boys themselves? There's a clue for you all: the "boys". They were, more politely, just young men when they first wrote their songs of love and truth. They *were* young, too. As young as some of r.m.b.'s most intrepid participants.
Just neophytes in their late teens and early twenties, the Fabs already mastered the miasm of the hit parade. Admirable, but that wasn't all! They cultivated their own innate cynical innocence. They became eminently quotable, made a few movies, talked and sang on radio and TV, posed for a few pictures, wrote a line or two of copy. Compare these princes of pop to any of the old masters of music and you'll find yourself questioning just what happened. Were they really all they seemed? Are they worth the attention? They were just kids, after all!
Maybe it's no surprise that the Beatles continue to transfix the younger set.
Age, of course, is relative. In some cultures manhood is reached at thirteen, not just figuratively. In some eras a twenty-year-old was bordering upon middle age...especially if you consider that in remote times one was lucky to live to the age of thirty-five. In the nineties, twenty *seems* awfully young. Youth keeps extending its parameters. And the wisdom of youth, as we know, is an oxymoron. :-)
Even when the Beatles were first writing their hits, they were awfully young by today's standards. They weren't such old coots by their own, either. A twenty-three year old man in 1940, especially in England, had family responsibilities, likely as not---responsibilities towards his parents or his own children---and was facing the threat of the worst of world wars.
This changed only partially---but significantly---by 1963. One half of the writing team of Lennon and McCartney was just such a family man, whose future was by no means secure in the fickle world of pop music; the other half, though charming and equipped with the ability (if not the will) to pass his school exams, had left his future to the vagaries of music charts.
Maybe this is evidence that, for the Fabs, youth was still predominant. For them, dreams still mattered; belief in oneself was all. And it takes a certain reliance on the child-part of one's soul to make such dreams happen.
Youth doesn't prevent this. Youth, in fact, enhances it. And youth, you might say, is best able to discern the words of our own sweet Boys. No wonder there are new fans every day. I've met one, in fact, so young he cannot yet write; he can't even articulate his attraction for the foursome that moves him now, as it did me some thirty years ago. But he can move to the music, resonate to its rhythm, with as much verve as any "first state" fan.
Youth's soul makes it possible to put such passion to work. No matter
what our respective tie to mere chronology, we are *all* ageless when
immersed in the Beatles' lyrical dreams...which (if we have not forgotten
the lessons of our own youth) are our dreams as well.
"...Rugged yet romantic, appealing to both sexes, with calculated naivete and an ingenious throwaway approach to their music, effecting indifference to audience response and yet always saying 'thank-you'." --------------------------------------saki (firstname.lastname@example.org)------ Click here to return to the rmb home page.
Click here to return to saki's index.