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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. The Beatles - Life and Work
1.1. History and social background
1.2. The secret of their success
2. The Swinging Sixties
2.1. Zeitgeist - historical development and meaning of music
2.2. The most remarkable music-event of the Sixties - Woodstock
3. Analysis of some of the Beatles` most critical songs
3.1. “Yellow Submarine“
5. The Beatles` role in music today Personal outlook
One of the reasons for me to decide this topic was my marked interest concerning music. Listening to all kinds of music has always been one of my favourite hobbies. I`m also interested in finding out interesting information about singers, composers and music groups. But when you want to characterize songs or analyse the listeners` reactions towards music as such, you have to appropriate special knowledge about the history of the time the songs were produced, the social background of the composer and his reasons to create his kind of style. The Beatles are a classic example for the fact that music is able to arouse certain effects in society. It follows from this that it is a must to scrutinize their music closely. But not only their music is predestined for scrutinies. “Beatlemania“, as the success of the Beatles was called, had its origin not only in the music. The personality of the four boys was not comparable to the personality of any other music group. The reasons therefore cannot be enumerated in in a few sentences, because it is a difficult act to point out those reasons clearly. It is nearly impossible for anyone to analyse something that complex, because everybody has a different opinion on that kind of topic. So all the written information you can find about the Beatles is produced by people with certain points of view. Thus the conclusion is that the answer of the question “The Beatles - smart businessen or a bit more?“ is just based on one more single opinion. If 100 people wanted to answer this question, the result would consist of 100 different solutions. This complexity was one more reason for me to decide this theme. In the following I will try to analyse some critical songs performed by the Beatles to build up an own opinion on the question if they just were smart businessmen or if there is something more behind their musical skill.
1. The Beatles - Life and Work
1.1. History and social background
The Beatles are one of the world`s greatest phenomena in the second half of the 20th century. The whole fairy-tale of their career started on July 6th 1957. This was the day when John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. Lennon was the head of a small band that was called “The Quarry Men“.1 After a few minutes John was convinced that it would have been a good idea to let Paul become a member of “The Quarry Men“. After McCartney showed his ability to play the guitar, Lennon was sure having found someone with equal musical skills.2 Shortly thereafter, probably at an early 1958 Quarry Men gig at Wilson Hall, John met Paul`s friend, George Harrison.3 Since August 1960 “The Quarry Men“ called themselves “The Beatles“. At first the Beatles consisted of five members. Besides Paul McCartney and John Lennon, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best joined the group. After some gigs at home the Beatles got a tempting offer from the “Kaiserkeller“, a club in Hamburg, where several English bands played at that time. The four from Liverpool accepted the offer from Hamburg and spent two years in Germany. When they came back to Liverpool, they met Brian Epstein, their future manager.4 If he wasn`t resolute to bring the Beatles on the top of the charts, he wouldn`t have tried everything to achieve a contract with Decca, one of the most well known disc firms in Great Britain. Although The Beatles were allowed to take part in a disc recording, Decca-producers declared no interest of entering into a contract with the Fab Four. They thought that the ability of the four young men to make music successfully was not sufficient.5 Nevertheless Epstein tried as much as he could to make both ends meet. Finally, on May 9th 1962 EMI-productions made the first contract with the Beatles. After Stu Sutcliffe, who had already left the band in Hamburg, Pete Best ended his membership as well. This gap was filled by Ringo Starr, who was one of the most famous drummers in Liverpool. Their first song, “Love Me Do“, was published in October 1962 and the second record, “Please Please Me“, was their first number one hit.6 From then onwards the Beatles were as popular in Great Britain as the Royal Family. But interestingly enough, the popularity of the Four was not only restricted to England. In October 1963 the Beatles did nine shows in Sweden.7 The security logistics had to be just as tight as in Britain because “Beatlemania“ was intense there, too.8 Wherever the Beatles went to perform something new, thousands of fans waited for them to listen to their latest songs. But although the Beatles were known anywhere in Europe, they - and especially their manager Brian Epstein - still had one unrivaled target: their first United States visit. At first the Beatles and Brian were more than a little fearful of how they would be received in America.9 The fear had a reason. British rock groups had always had difficulties in the United States. Often they were very successful in their home country. But the Americans hadn`t been in favour of British music during the Fifties and the beginning Sixties. But in midsummer 1963 Epstein got an offer from an American promoter, Sid Bernstein. He wanted to have the Fab Four in New York`s Carnegie Hall, a great concert hall.10 But Epstein felt insecure about this offer. He wanted to have offers that guaranteed more than just one gig. So he decided to begin talks with the producers of the “Ed Sullivan Show“. The “Ed Sullivan Show“ was probably the most watched TV-show in the whole world. After hard negotiations about money and the number of performances, Epstein reached two live shows and one taped show. The dates of the shows were set for February 1964.11 So the four boys from Liverpool`s first visit to the United States was about to happen. In January 1964 they flew from Paris to New York, where they were received friendly. After their first press conference also the journalists loved the naturalness of the British singers. Every American was now inquisitive about their first performance in the “Ed Sullivan Show“. On February 9th, one of the largest audiences in television history, a record-breaking 73 million viewers, watched the Beatles on stage and were not disappointed at all.12 This gig at the “Ed Sullivan Show“ was their breaktrough in the United States. The “Beatlemania“ was, as it were, not only belonging to Europe anymore. Up to January 4th 1970, when Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr recorded their last album “Let It Be“, “The Beatles“ had produced 22 single records and 14 long playing records.13 These figures delineate quite obviously the inconceivable success of the Fab Four during the Sixties. Nowadays the Beatles stand for a decade, in which music was an outlet for young people that was to reduce negative emotions and aggressions.
1.2. The secret of their success
As it was mentioned before, statistics prove that the Beatles still nowadays belong to the most successful and long-lived personalities in music business:
The most successful single records:14
1. White Christmas - Bing Crosby, 1942, 30 mio. records
2. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley, 1955, 17 mio. records
3. I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles, 1963, 12 mio. records
4. It`s Now Or Never - Elvis Presley, 1960, 10 mio. records
5. Hound Dog / Don`t Be Cruel - Elvis Presley, 1956, 9 mio. records Diana - Paul Anka, 1957, 9 mio. records
7. I`m A Believer - The Monkees, 1966, 8 mio. records Hey Jude - The Beatles, 1968, 8 mio. records
9. Can`t Buy Me Love - The Beatles, 1964, 7 mio. records We Are The World - USA for Africa, 1985, 7 mio. records
The most successful long playing records:15
1. Thriller - Michael Jackson, 1982, 40 mio. records
2. Saturday Night Fever - Soundtrack, 1977, 30. Mio. records
3. Grease - Soundtrack, 1978, 24 mio. records
4. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac, 1977, 21 mio. records
5. Sgt. Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles, 1967, 20 mio. records
6. The Wall - Pink Floyd, 1979, 19 mio. records
7. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel, 1970, 18 mio. records Born In The USA - Bruce Springsteen, 1984, 18 mio. records
9. Abbey Road - The Beatles, 1969, 16 mio. records
10. Tapestry - Carol King, 1970, 15 mio. records
Looking at those figures, nobody will deny that the Fab Four must had had something completely different, because otherwise their incredible success wouldn`t have been possible. But what facts are the reasons for this success? What made the Fab Four so completely different from other musicians? Looking at the bands that performed music during the Sixties and Seventies, one must distinguish clearly between the music and performance of the Beatles and the work of other contemporary composers and singers. At first, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were brilliant composers who have been equalized to famous songwriters of the past as George Gershwin16 and Karl Loewe17.18 Astoundingly, a London Times music critic called the duo “the greatest songwriters since Beethoven.“19
A second characteristic that distinguished the Beatles from other rock groups was their overwhelming personal charm and charisma, which was astonishing. The indefinable group chemistry that the Beatles generated remains without precedence in musical history.20 The chemistry was so strong and powerful that the Fab Four, even after the breakup, continue to have an enormous and enthusiastic fan following to this day.21
But the probably most important fact that the Beatles were different from any other group at their time was their ability to experiment and grow musically.22 As soon as they realized that the success was phenomenal, they were able to strike out into new and undiscovered spheres of rock.23 Moreover they did not only produce rock-music, they created a new kind of style. This new style was called beat, named after the Beatles. They didn`t have any concerns that they would lose anything of their glorious fame.24 Of course the music performed by the Beatles in the early Sixties was different from their music published at the end of this decade. Later on in this text there will be a closer examination on the stylistic development of the Beatles and the reasons for it.
2. The Swinging Sixties
2.1. Zeitgeist - historical development and meaning of music
In the time the Beatles became the leading band in the world, political and social changes took place as well. To understand the background of certain songs written during approximately ten years - not only by the Beatles - one has to examine the zeitgeist of this decade closely. In the following some important dates, facts and figures will prove that the Sixties were a decade of change and development - a development which was also recognizable in the work of the Fab Four.
At the beginning of the Sixties a confrontation between the two world powers United States of America and Sowjet Union concerning Cuba shocked the people. The confrontation started in September 1962 when the Sowjet Union started to deliver weapons to Cuba. The then President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, pronounced that the United States would not tolerate military actions committed by the island state. The Sowjet head of government, Nikita Chruschtschow, countered with the statement that Moscow warned the US not to take action against Cuba. The situation became even worse. Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, allowed the Sowjets to erect rocket launching sites along the Cuban coast. This act portayed a imaginary declaration of war for the American government. Following from that, Kennedy declared that the United States would do everything to restrict Cuba`s possibilities to start a war. But Chruschtschow realized that a war between the United States and the Sowjet Union - which would have been the consequence of a conflict between Cuba and the US - would have been fateful for both nations. So he decided to dismantle the military bases in Cuba.25
After the successful prevention of a senseless war, the world was shocked once more. On November 22nd 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a visit in Dallas. While he and his wife were driving through the city of Dallas in an open car, someone fired three shots that hit Kennedy lethally. After 30 minutes in hospital the doctors had to give up. The American nation had lost a great man who was not only a competent politician. The fact that John F. Kennedy had many supporters around the world didn`t make it easier to overcome such a tragedy.26
But one historical event is the release for a radical change in the minds of many people - the war between the United States and the Vietcong. This event began in the 1964. The US interfered in a conflict between South Vietnam and the Vietcong. At first the United States didn`t start military attacks against the Vietcong. This changed on August 2nd 1964 when three North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked a US-destroyer. After that act the new elected President of the country, Lyndon B. Johnson, declared that the US was at war. Half a year later, on February 7th 1965, the United States started air attacks against the Vietcong. From then onwards inconceivable cruelties were on the agenda everyday. Astoundingly, the American armed forces were not able to decide the war after a short period of time. This conflict was so cruel that it didn`t take much time until the American population was convinced that a war like this would be to stop immediately. It took four years until the United States withdrew their troops from the Vietcong. But after that the protests against the US-army didn`t have an end. The reason was that new cruelties committed by several American soldiers became public. Many people demonstrated against these cruelties. But because they did that peacefully, they didn`t achieve very much. The war officially ended not before the year 1970.27
Through political and tragic developments like this, the people started to change their views. Nearly the whole world was involved in warlike actions during the Sixties. Because of this the people had to find peaceful ways to protest against regimes and politics successfully. At first some people tried to achieve political progress by demonstrating in front of the White House or anywhere else where politicians made important decisions. But after The Beatles became successful approximately everywhere in the world, more and more people came to the decision that music is a good possibility to express one`s emotions. The men and women everwhere in the world were weary of war and nuclear destruction. Because of that many critical songs were produced and performed in a completely new way.
But on the other hand the music was the reason for another development during the Swinging Sixties. The people now led their lives the way music told them. Because they hated war and political conflicts, they practiced peace and love. They also wanted to create a new society based on personal freedom. Of course not everybody had the same opinion on that topic. Especially elder people were not completely convinced that this kind of music was the right thing for their children. Those people had been of the opinion that this kind of protest was to fail, because just listening to music and creating a new kind of lifestyle was not enough for breaking conventions and finding diplomatic solutions in political conflicts. Moreover advocats of the so called Flower-power-movement thought that big music-events couldn`t be senseful. This opinion based on the fact that during the Sixties drugs and alcohol beverages became infamous because of their consequences. These advocats of the Flower-power- movement also showed publicly their point of view - that big music-events are no real opportunities for young people to change the society. This way of thinking was - in the eyes of young people - a fallacy.
2.2. The most remarkable music-event in the Sixties - Woodstock
To understand the meaning of music in the Swinging Sixties an outstanding event has to be mentioned - Woodstock. In 1969 a music festival took place in the United States, where singers like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix or Joan Baez presented their music to protest against nuclear armament and old fashioned character traits of society. But it was also the time where the Flower-Power- Movement was at its height. The Flower-Power-Movement started in the beginning of the Sixties, when students in the United States started to rebel against the old-fashioned society. The aim of the movement was to leave society.28 The members of the Flower-Power-movement tried to reach their targets by organizing peaceful demonstrations and mass festivals like in Monterey/California in 1967 or in Woodstock/New York in 1969. So the music the people listened to was sheer criticism towards the politics. At that time the people in the United States were afraid of any warlike conflicts considering their country. A war between America and Russia would have been disastrous. The population of course knew this. Because of this fact thousands of people came together in Woodstock in 1969. The protagonists on stage wanted to give the peple an opportunity to become heard by the politicians sitting in Washington D.C.. The most outstanding composer who was to critisize the politicians was Jimi Hendrix. In his song “The Star-spangled Banner“29 he performed the national anthem of the US. But by using his guitar in his special way, the anthem sounded like the noises of bombings and explosions. This was Hendrix`s message towards the politics of the Sixties.30 This is just another fact that shows how the people used music to express their emotions.
3. Analysis of some of the Beatles` most critical songs
3.1. “Yellow Submarine“
In the town where I was born lived a man who sailed the sea, And he told us of his life in the land of submarines.
So we sailed up to the sun till we found the sea of green And we lived beneath the waves in our yellow submarine.
We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine. We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.
And our friends are all aboard, many more of them live next door: And the band begins to play.
We all live in a ...
As we live a life of ease, every one of us has all we need Sky of blue and sea of green in our yellow submarine.
We all live in a ...
We all live in a ...
Obviously not all songs performed by the Fab Four are extremely demanding or written in a sophisticated and critical way. “Yellow Submarine“ - cf. tape, song two - is a suitable example for this theory. The text offers the reader a quite simple plot which is easy to understand. Analysing the first stanza of this song isn`t very difficult. The first four lines of “Yellow Submarine“ consist of the beginning of a surreal story which takes place in the “land of submarines“ (l.2). Anyone who listens to this song or reads the lyrics won`t have much problems to grasp the story. The fact that the plot is simple can easily be confirmed by listening to the song carefully. It seems that it was more important to the Beatles to create a catchy tune than to make the listeners get an own opinion about a certain topic. As it were, the four boys just needed a plot that was to be tolerably interesting and compatible to the melody.
Other contemporary singers tried to reach certain aims by making music. Why did the Beatles then produce such a simplistic song? Well, looking at the target group of this song, you`ll find out that it was composed for children. From this point of view the song is not simplistic. There is a deeper meaning behind it. In “Yellow Submarine“ you won`t find hidden allusions to war or nuclear armament, because children are not able to read between the lines whereas adults have the opportunity to find hidden messages and to understand deeper meanings. But why then is this song one of their most famous ones? There do exist two theories concerning this question. From my point of view, both are acceptable. At first, the melody of “Yellow Submarine“ is, as it was already mentioned, a catchy tune. Everyone who listens to the song immediately feels inclined to sing it oneself. Furthermore the refrain can easily be memorized. So it is no surprise that the song became that successful. The second theory might be right as well. The Beatles needed twelve hours to record the song. The reason therefore was the enormous usage of all kinds of different instruments. The sound effects of “Yellow Submarine“ were not only bombastic, they also were quite unconventional. Several noises, for example, were produced by a traditional brass band. This mixture of tradition and modern beat was something the world never had listened to before.31
But let us now come back to the analysis of the song. As it was already mentioned, “Yellow Submarine“ is not as simplistic as it seems to be. The voyage that is described in the song takes place “beneath the waves“ (l.4). according to the political situation of the time the song was published - it was 1966 - these three words get a completely different meaning. In 1966 the Cuba crisis was still in the people`s minds. Also Kennedy`s assassination and the Vietnam war still were topical themes. The people just wanted to get rid of all these bad news they had been listening to all the time. Beneath the water there are no noises and no bad news. The situation under the sea can be explained in one word - isolation. Thus The Beatles just expressed the people`s thoughts by singing “Yellow Submarine“. The people wanted to be isolated to some extent, because they associated safety and peace with isolation. Nowadays isolation is something unpleasant, because in a time without war - in most parts of the world - isolation is equalized to loneliness and helplessness. But during the Sixties the people were happy when their mother country was not influenced by war. Also the sequence “every one of us has all we need“ (l.10) emphasizes that isolation was judged positively by the composers of “Yellow Submarine“, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. To put it in a nutshell, The Beatles show a remarkable competence of putting an important message in a childlikely structured song not only to earn money or publish a new song. They published not only a song, they published their own opinion about the political and social situation of the Swinging Sixties.
Help! I need somebody Help! Not just anybody Help! You know I need someone. Help!
When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody`s help in any way And now these days are gone I`m not so self-assured Now I find I`ve changed my mind I`ve opened up the doors.
Help me if you can I`m feeling down And I do appreciate you being `round Help me get my feet back on the ground Won`t you please please help me?
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways My independence seems to vanish in the haze But every now and then I feel so insecure I know that I just need you like I`ve never done before.
Help me if...
When I was younger
Help me if you can I`m feeling down And I do appreciate you being `round Help me get my feet back on the ground Won`t you please help me? Help me Help me ooh.
“Help“ - cf. tape, song three - is quite different from “Yellow Submarine“. Firstly, the target group of “Help“ are no children. The song was produced for the film of the same name and was to become the theme tune of the movie. Officially the composers of this theme tune were John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But strictly speaking only John Lennon was responsible for the lyrics. It was the first Beatles-song in which the lyrics were as important as the music itself. However only a few people really got the gist of the song. Probably not even Lennon realized what he had done there. The public just listened to another great song perfomed by the Fab Four. Later Lennon realized that “Help“ was an autobiographical song. In the time the song was written, Lennon was troubled by enormous weight problems. He got bored by his wife and his whole situation. Following from that he drank too much alcohol and ate more than he was able to stand. Nevertheless the director of the movie told Lennon to write the theme tune. Lennon did so and the result was a cry for help addressed towards his social surroundings.32
The strength of this song was achieved by the convincing power of Lennon`s autobiographical experience. It could be possible that “Help“ might have had its origin in John`s personal history, but anyone of the listneners had not to be an expert on music to recognize Lennon`s longing for a helping hand and a return back to happier days of his life. John clearly points out that his life has been changing through the years of success and wealth. This change is to be seen several times in the song. The first three lines just consist of a cry for help that is not addressed to someone specific, but it must be addressed towards a person who knows about Lennon`s mental state, because he says “Help! Not just anybody“ (l.2). In the second stanza the process in Lennon`s life is portrayed in form of a comparison between his youth and his life as a celebrity - “when I was younger...“ (l.4), “And now my life has changed in oh so many ways“ (l.14). But one thing has to be mentioned as well: John knows exactly what reasons were responsible for his development. He is, at first, responsible himself, because he wanted to earn money and become famous and successful
- “I`ve opened up the doors“ (l.9) - but because of glory and fame of the Beatlemania Lennon was not able to hold his feet down on the ground - “Help me get my feet back on the ground“ (l.12). His longing for help is so incredibly powerful that he properly begs for someone to rescue him - “Won`t you please please help me?“ (l.13).33
This analysis underlines the fact that music is a suitable opportunity for everyone to express emotions. “Help“ is the best proof for this theory.
You say you want a revolution well you know We all want to change the world You tell me that it`s evolution well you know We all want to change the world But when you talk about destruction Don`t you know that you can count me out Don`t you know it`s gonna be alright alright alright
You say you got a real solution well you know We`d all love to see the plan You ask me for a contribution well you know We are doing what we can But if you want money for people with minds that hate All I can tell you is brother you have to wait Don`t you know it`s gonna be alright, alright, alright
You say you`ll change the constitution well you know We all want to change your head You tell me it`s the institution well you know You better free your mind instead But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao You ain`t going to make it with anyone anyhow Don`t you know it`s gonna be alright, alright, alright
“Revolution“ - cf. tape, song four - was published on August 30 th 1968. 34 Following from that, this is a song that was composed in the last but one year of the Beatles` career. It`s also a quite critical one. But in contrast to “Help“ there is no hidden message to be found. Thus the message of the song is easy understandable. In the first out of three stanzas, the Beatles freely admit that they are not satisfied with the current situation and are of the opinion that a revolution is the right thing on principle. But they clearly do distinguish between a peaceful change of society and a destructive one - cf. ll. 5f. As it was already mentioned in this text, the people wanted to change the society and politics by demonstrating against certain developments during the Sixties. The song supports this kind of coping with problematic situations. “Destruction“ (l.5) means terrorism in the eyes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney - once more the composers of the song. But when you look at the political condition of many states in the Sixties, you immediately recognize because the Beatles have such an opinion. At first, terror in no case is something positive. But secondly the results of terrorist activities often are even more deplorable than the situation was beforehand. The situation in Northern Ireland during the last decades showed it. Everytime the IRA committed bombings the outcome was that it was more difficult to make both sides sit together on one table and build up a just system of democracy afterwards. So the consequence of terrorism always is new, even more powerful, terrorism. That`s exactly what the Beatles want to bring into the listeners` minds by singing “Revolution“.
But they even go further. In the second stanza, the Fab Four emphasize that they never ever are willing to support anything that could be supposed to help terrorists or terrorist groups committing crimes - “But if you want money for people with minds that hate All I can tell you is brother you have to wait“ (ll.12f.). Thus the Beatles did something they hadn`t done before. By performing “Revolution“ the Beatles not only tell the listener what to do, they tell him what not to do as well. In “Yellow Submarine“ and “Help“ the Fab Four always give advices how to behave in certain situations. But they never give any hints for the listener how he is not supposed to behave.
“Revolution“ of course also has a historical function. In the time the song was published, Europe and the United States of America were afflicted by student tumults. Furthermore, the Vietnam war had reached its climax. Thus it is no speculation that the message of the song was directly addressed to these events. The Beatles were sure that they had to take a stand on these developments. Especially John Lennon was really enthusiastically of the opinion that “Revolution“ would be the best and the only opportunity for the Fab Four to point out their statement towards the war in Vietnam and the student revolts.
Nevertheless they also hoped to be able to inspire the society to change their standard of living.34
Also the third stanza consists of criticism. Mao Tse-tung is mentioned (l.18), who was one of the leading communists in China. In 1965 he an his wife initiated a culture revolution which led to student tumults as well. Because of this all the people in the world felt endangered by communism. Thus the Mao- case is a leading one that was of help to the Beatles as a deterrent example to underline their statement.35
Obviously the Beatles` state of mind must have had changed during their career as well. The way of criticizing things in “Revolution“ is completely different from the criticism presented in “Yellow Submarine“ and “Help“. In “Yellow Submarine“ the represented criticism hides behind a childlike plot and remains insignificant all the time. Actually “Help“ is not comparable to “Yellow Submarine“ and “Revolution“, because the lyrics are written in an autobiographical way and don`t criticize politics or social problems.
All these facts prove that the Fab Four went through a mental development. Their attitude towards society and politics must have had changed completely. The question now is to find out the reasons for their mental process.
The reasons for the Beatles` mental process differ in many ways. In some cases only the personal professional background was essential to the development. But there were also individual persons who influenced the lyrics of the music. By looking at the enumeration of the single influences that were substantial, one can easily give the purifying answer to the question whether the Beatles were smart businessmen or a bit more.
Nobody was able to realize that the Beatles had been consuming drugs during their career. But the so called mind-expanding drugs were such a necessary element for the Beatles` work that it sometimes wasn`t possible for the Fab Four to perform without. These drugs were the catalyst that was responsible for the fact that the Beatles changed from amiable young musicians into rebels. Their favourite drugs were LSD and Marihuana. In August 1964 the Beatles tried Marihuana the first time. They got it from Bob Dylan who was of the opinion that the Beatles were already used to consuming drugs. The main reason for the Fab Four to try drugs was sheer curiosity. But soon they found out that drugs made it easier to stand the trouble and the stress. In spring 1965 the Beatles made the movie “Help“. Later in their career, on May 19th 1967, they admitted that everyone of the four had had consumed drugs during the work of the movie. By listening to the album “Help“ one can realize quite easily that drugs also had a formative influence on the lyrics of the album.37
Although the listeners were deeply shocked when they heard that the Beatles had had consumed drugs, the Beatles themselves were not as worried as the public was. They just declared the statement that the drugs had opened them new perspectives in composing and performing influencing lyrics.38 Nevertheless the Beatles also declared that they never ever would consume any drugs again.39
John Lennon`s relationship with Yoko Ono
Because John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the leading composers of the band, a female influence on one of the both would have had unknown consequences concerning the lyrics of certain songs. On November 9th 1966, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a Japanese artist, met the first time at the opening of an exhibition in London`s Indica Gallery. From then onwards Ono tried everything to become acquainted with John. The fact that Lennon was married to Cynthia didn`t disturb Ono very much. Finally she got what she wanted and Lennon left his wife. After that she inspired John to show his artistic abilities in his lyrics. John was so fascinated by this woman that he did everything she told him to do.40
Thus Yoko Ono must be mentioned as an influence on the Beatles as well. Still nowadays, many people think that Yoko Ono was the reason for the Beatles to end their career, because they couldn`t identify themselves with Lennon`s work anymore.41
In 1964, when the Beatles had climbed up the first step in the career ladder, they were asked how they would define success. Everyone of the four immediately answered: “Money“.42 Furthermore they didn`t seem to be interested in social deplorable states of affairs or alarming political developments. But is this kind of behavior something unnatural? Certainly not. Just think about their personal background. The Beatles didn`t belong to wealthy families. They had the chance to earn much money only by pursuing their favourite hobby - making music. So, at the beginning of their unprecedented career they more or less only made music because they expected financial benefits from it. Later on they had more money than they were able to spend. Following from that, the commercial lure decreased. This also was a reason for the Beatles to change their attitude towards the outside world. Now they had enough money and no more financial worries. Thus they got the opportunity to broaden their minds concerning topics like social injustice. Soon they realized that they now were influential personalities and wanted to use this advantage to help the people who were not able to help themselves. To cut a long story short, the final conclusion must be: Yes, the Beatles were much more than smart businessmen. They were four boys who only had commercial interests at first. But during the development of their career, the four boys from Liverpool matured into four adults who knew exactly how to rebel against global injustice successfully. This fact and their inconceivable talent to create music were the necessary components for many people to find a new approach to life.
5. The Beatles` role in music today
Still nowadays it is often the case that you switch on the radio and hear a song that has been composed by the Fab Four. The Beatles are, even at the beginning of the 21st century, a steady element of the radio- and TV-business. Although many people indicate the Beatles as Oldies, also young people know them and, mostly, like them as well. After the end of their career 1970, everyone did something different as far as the private life is concerned. But there was one thing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison still had in common: they never left the music business for a long period of time. It is true that John Lennon had a space of five years in which he didn`t perform anything at all, but nevertheless he restarted his life on stage again in 1980. But he didn`t have the time to become successful again. He was killed by a fanatic fan on December 8th 1980.43
McCartney, Starr and Harrison still make music. Although they are not that successful anymore, they still get invited to TV- and music shows from time to time. The fact that the former Beatles still reap standing ovations everytime they are present on stage, shows that the people haven`t forgotten the things the four boys from Liverpool achieved during their lives.
It was not always easy to find suitable material for answering the question “The Beatles - smart businessmen or a bit more?“ It is true that there exists lots of books and brochures about the biography of the Fab Four, but not many people write books that concentrate on the important backgrounds of the Beatles` songs. Interestingly enough it is much easier to find infomation about musicians and boygroups that perform music nowadays. The Backstreet boys for example, a boygroup that exists since the middle of the Nineties, are present in approximately every magazine concerning modern music. There are also many different types of books about the Backstreet boys. But although the Beatles created much more intelligent lyrics than most of the present boygroups do, every boulevard magazine on TV and the print media only specialize in good- looking but superficial musicians. This fact was quite disappointing for me to realize. But nevertheless the analysis was an enormous success for me. I learned quite many interesting facts and myths about the Beatles. Of course it was also interesting to distinguish between true and false facts concerning the work of the Beatles.
Thus I am of the opinion that the whole expenditure of material and working hours was not senseless at all.
BURKART, W., Grosses Universal Lexikon, Band 2, Schweinfurt 1982
BURKART, W., Grosses Universal Lexikon, Band 3, Schweinfurt 1982
Chronik, Band 9, Von der Kuba-Krise bis Seveso, Stuttgart 1982
FELKEL, P., Millennium Special - Die 60er, in: musikexpress, 1999, Nr. 9, p. 31-40
HARENBERG, B., Die Bilanz des 20. Jahrhunderts. Dortmund, 31994
HERTSGAARD, M., The Beatles - Die Geschichte ihrer Musik. München, 21997
MARTIN, M., The Beatles - The music was never the same. o.O., 1996
SPANN, E., Abiturwissen - Landeskunde Great Britain United States of America. Stuttgart 91998
1 cf. Felkel, P., Millenium Special - Die 60er, in: musikexpress, 1999, Nr. 9, p. 31
2 ibid., p. 32
3 Martin, M., The Beatles - The music was never the same. o.O., 1996, p. 37
4 cf. Felkel, P., p. 33
5 cf. Chronik, Band 9, Von der Kuba-Krise bis Seveso, Stuttgart 1982, p.
6 cf. Felkel, P., p. 33
7 cf. Martin, M., p. 120
8 Martin, M., p. 120
9 ibid., p. 123f
10 cf. ibid., p. 125
11 cf. ibid., p. 125f
12 cf. ibid., p. 131f
13 cf. Hertsgaard, M., The Beatles - Die Geschichte ihrer Musik. München, 21997, p. 1
14 cf. Harenberg, B., Die Bilanz des 20. Jahrhunderts. Dortmund, 31994, p. 338
15 cf. ibid., p. 338
16 Gershwin, George (1898-1937): American composer - cf. Burkart, W., Grosses Universal Lexikon, Band 2, Schweinfurt 1982, p. 758
17 Loewe, Karl (1796-1869): German composer - cf. Burkart, W., Grosses Universal Lexikon, Band 3, Schweinfurt 1982, p. 1288
18 cf. Martin, M., p. 11
19 ibid., p. 11
20 ibid., p. 11
21 ibid., p. 11
22 cf. ibid., p. 12
23 cf. ibid., p. 12
24 cf. ibid., p. 12
25 Chronik, Band 9, Von der Kuba-Krise bis Seveso, Stuttgart 1982, p.
26 Chronik, Band 9, p.
27 Chronik, Band 9, p.
28 cf. Felkel, P., p. 38ff
29 cf. tape, song one
30 cf. Felkel, P., p. 40
31 cf. Hertsgaard, M., p. 207
32 cf. Hertsgaard, M., p. 142
33 cf. Hertsgaard, M., p. 142
34 cf. ibid., p. 451
35 cf. Hertsgaard, M., p. 267
36 cf. Harenberg, B., p. 459
37 cf. Hertsgaard, M., p. 215f
38 cf. ibid., p. 220
39 cf. ibid., p. 221
40 cf. Hertsgaard, M., p. 264f
41 cf. ibid., p. 263
42 cf. ibid. p. 214
43 cf. Martin, M., p. 175f