I saw a video of a concert given by the Beatles in 1963 which made me think, oh my God, 50 years have gone by since then, some of the young fans singing along with their idols at the concert may no longer even be around any more, but gone like John and George.
I love the Beach Boys’ song, I Can Hear Music. The ardour of young love and the sweet harmony capture all that is beautiful in life. Yes, it’s just a teenage love song, but listen to the jangling guitars, insistent beat and plaintive voices. Isn’t that what life is all about: wishing and hoping and, if you are lucky, getting what you want?
Popular music perhaps most faithfully articulates our feelings, for it changes with every generation, and no two generations have ever seen eye to eye. I can’t stand rap music any more than the rappers have time for the Beach Boys and the Beatles. This evanescence is what makes popular music so appealing, for it mirrors our own lives. We know it’s going to fade away, just as we will, but that’s why it’s all the more dear to us, because we can identify with it.
While Wald never says in so many words that the Beatles destroyed rock ’n’ roll, he does take a stance several degrees removed from standard-issue Beatles worship. He suggests that their ambitious later work, widely hailed as a step forward for rock, instead helped turn it from a triumphantly mongrel dance music that smashed racial barriers into a rhythmically inert art music made mostly by and for white people.
I love the Beatles, but most of my favourites are from their early days, up to 1966 and 67. Of course, they continued to make great music later. Tracks like Get Back and Ballad Of John And Yoko are among their very best. But I fell in love with the Beatles when I first heard songs like I Want To Hold Your Hand, Help, She Loves You, Ticket To Ride and my favourite – A Hard Day’s Night.