Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Beatles

- Bikramjit Chandra (M.Sc. Physics, II Year), Arpan Ganguly and Ankush Saha (M.A. Economics, II year)

"Living is easy with eyes closed.
Misunderstanding is all you see."

- Strawberry Fields Forever (Magical mystery tour, 1967)

Perhaps the most popular and influential band of all time, The Beatles not only revolutionized the way music was perceived by the studios and the masses but were also among the primary co-creators of the late 60s/early 70s cultural revolution, the aftershocks of which we still feel today.

The Beatles quartet were composed of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr: commonly referred to then, and now forever, as the "Fab Four". The Liverpool bunch were first signed on by EMI-Parlophone, after being famously rejected by Decca Records with the words, "guitar bands are passé". This "Guitar Band" went on to become one of the heaviest selling artists of all time and helped usher in the great 1970s "Era of the Guitar".

The Vietnam War, which by 1968-69 had affected the lives of perhaps every household in America, had an extremely penetrating impact on the music of the Beatles. Using music as a medium, they expressed their discontent towards the dominant establishment, thereby hinting at the complexities involved in the structure of the utilitarian society. The band contributed in instigating the revolutionary spirit among the masses by actively participating and initiating revolutionary movements, such as "Baggism" started by John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono. Through this movement, they tried to bring an end to racism, class discrimination and other social evils by covering themselves from head to toe with a brown bag, thereby symbolising the spirit of equality within the masses.

Much of the structure of today's musical promotion and recording is a consequence of the way The Beatles presented their music. Richard Lester, the director of the Beatles movies A Hard Day's Night and Help! was credited by MTV to be the father of the modern music video. They were among the first bands  to popularise self-composition and to introduce the structure of the modern rock album. The Beatles, apart from being the pioneers in making artistic album covers, also created and popularised many studio effects like flanging, multi-tracking etc. Their use  of string accompaniments ("Eleanor Rigby"), Indian instruments ("Norwegian Wood", "Within You, Without You") and unfamiliar instruments and non-musical sounds ("Yellow Submarine") in their songs were copied and developed more extensively by later artists. In fact the complexity of their music and their fabulous record sales instigated recording companies to restructure and develop music recording and production.

The Beatles influenced fashion throughout their heyday and also after. Their initial "moptop" haircuts and collarless Edwardian suits were the rage among the youth. Later on they popularised collarless shirts, floral prints and sandals during the psychedelic era shifting on to t-shirts and denims. John Lennon's signature wire-rimmed shaded glasses were so popular that the style is now generally named after him. They also became the biggest cultural icons during their time inspiring millions of people across the globe. The band eventually broke up in 1970 after 10 years of an illustrious career.  

The unprecedented revolutionary success sparked off by The Beatles received a sharp blow with the assassination of John Lennon by Mark Chapman in 1980. However, this did not put an end to the fire enkindled among the youth by the Beatles.

For more information, visit the official site. (Editors)

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