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THE BEATLES EFFECT: WHY THEY STILL MEAN SO MUCH by Alan L.

Chrisman
Ive always been most fascinated with two periods of The Beatles, especially, their beginnings in
Liverpool and Hamburg and in their later years 1968-70, before their break-up. The irony is that
I think they made some of their most interesting music at those times. Besides many of us
being affected by them, The Beatles Story is, I think so intriguing, because it really encompasses
a bit of everything-from rags to riches beginnings, youthful ideals, artistic success, love, later
in-fighting, and perhaps even, eventually a kind of redemption. In other words, all the things,
that all of us, as human beings probably go through in our own relationships and lives. But their
journey happens at a much higher profile and speeded-up rate . After all, they as a group, The
Beatles, only lasted about 10 years. Its hard to believe because so much happened in that
time. It truly was at a special time in history, The Sixties: The Decade That Changed the
World, as some have called it.
They were a big part of that, for they revolutionized not only pop music and culture, but so
much more. I think that is why The Beatles continue to fascinate us, not only the Baby boomers
who grew up with them, but also generations to come.
Peter Doggett points out in his book, You Never Give Me Your Money & The Beatles After the
Break-up that their own company, Apple Corps. began in 1968 originally as a way, suggested by
their financial advisors, to protect their money from the British tax system. But The Beatles,
being artists and not businessmen, saw it also as a way to help other up-and-coming artists.
They never forgot how they themselves had been pretty well ignored by the music industry,
until a little-respected branch of Britains EMI record label and a potential-seeing producer,
George Martin, finally gave them a chance.
They had this idealistic and youthful 60s ideal that they could perhaps offer that chance to
others at the same time. But pretty soon, as with the excesses of the sixties, a lot of
freeloaders started taking advantage of them and Apple. And it was fast becoming a financial
mess. On top of that, The Beatles were going in different directions themselves, personally and
creatively. Always before they had, despite the differences between members, especially John
and Paul, the creative-opposites and main songwriters on which they revolved, been able to
come together. There was always a bit of rivalry between John and Paul, as anyone whos has
had an older sibling can understand, and they needed the others approval, and it made for a
balance in their song writing. But now George too, was coming into his own as a songwriter,
and felt unrecognized by the other two. They were also, at the same time, fighting just to keep
control of their song publishing, for which they had had to made deals in the beginning. They
had left all the business decisions to their manager, Brian Epstein, but he was no longer there to
protect them and the businessmen and lawyers saw their chance. So it was the perfect storm.
Soon The Beatles were divided into different camps. There was street-wise, Allan Klein, that
John & Yoko admired (and George and Ringo went along with) on one side and McCartney and
his wife, Linda Eastmans more refined lawyer family on the other. Doggett documents, step by
step, the long drawn out battle. The interesting thing though is, it seemed nobody really did
totally want to end their fruitful partnership, but like in a torn marriage, no one also wants to
admit theyre wrong. And the divorce proceeds.
So it comes to an end, tellingly, at the same time as the 60s decade ends. The split, especially
in such acrimony, sends shockwaves throughout the pop culture. For, as I say, The Beatles had
become more than just a pop band. They represented the hope of the Woodstock generation
that we could all get along on just love and peace. Then John Lennon, in one of his first Beatles-
split solo albums sang, The dream is over and that he didnt believe in Beatles as well as all
the other icons we had looked up to. He said he just believed in Yoko and me and thats
reality. He was no longer the Elvis-inspired, teenage wannabe rocker that had gotten him to
start The Beatles.
Many fans still hoped, for years after, that somehow they (or our idealized vision of them)
would somehow hold time at a standstill and re-unite. But it was not to be. Times had changed
and so had they. They had grown up and so would we. They continued in their solo albums and
lives, Paul with Linda and Wings, John with Yoko, George fulfilled his acceptance as a
songwriter, and Ringo just being himself. But The Beatles were always more than the sum of
their individual parts, as became apparent. Ironically, they were still to compete with each
other throughout their solo careers (and secretly meet with each other) and even came close a
couple times to, possibly, re-forming. By 1973, Klein was replaced as head of Apple by their
long time loyal Liverpool assistant and got it back on track, Neil Aspinall (whom my Russ/Cdn.
friend, Yury Pelyushonok, got to know a bit when they were discussing possibly publishing his
book about the Beatles effect on the Soviet Union and he described Aspinall as their guardian
angel). But then John was assassinated by a fan and later George was stabbed by another
mentally ill fan and then died of cancer.
So The Beatles Story, took on almost Shakespearian proportions. As I said, it had everything-
innocence, great achievement, even sadly, tragedy. It also paralleled our own lives and
journeys as many of us also went through our own innocence, loves and perhaps relationship
break-ups. But of course, there are the magnificent songs that have remained timeless. True
artists articulate a societys and peoples feelings, often in advance, and perhaps when we hear
or see them, we see our own reflections. The Beatles were able in their songs, more than any
other group, perhaps, to capture a range of emotions with which a wide cross-section of us
could identify. The energy, hope and innocence of their early Yeah Yeah songs to the
experimental albums and songs of Rubber Soul, Revolver, Peppers, White Album, to the
bittersweet/ break-up Let it Be and yet they were somehow to end with the beautiful
harmonies of Abbey Road. And their solo albums also reflected their and our more coming to
grips with our maturity. The Beatles were always able to affect people on many different levels
at the same time. I am he as you are he and we are all together, as John Lennon sang on, I
Am The Walrus. Imagine is played every New Years Eve in Times Square and John Lennon is
respected for his ideals and music and Harrison for his songs and his spirituality. The Beatles
finally released the documentary & The Anthologies in the mid-90s, which Neil Aspinall had
first conceived and had been compiling since 1970 and it sold 30 million copies and were the
top selling albums in the world those years and showed their longevity. 50 years later and
counting, Paul and Ringo are still performing and able to bask in their wellearned legacy. And
theres even a kind of redemption in that.
I m still amazed myself, how new generations are still affected by them, all these years later, a
half-century later now since their North American Invasion. I was at a family get-together,
recently, and a grand- nephew of mine came up to me to introduce his high school girlfriend to
me. Evidently he had told her that I knew some things about The Beatles. She was all ga-ga
(and not for Lady Ga-Ga evidently), but for The Beatles. So I told her a couple of my own
Beatles experiences and gave her a copy of my book, Its A Long Way Home (& How Beatles
Music Saved My Life). I noticed that she was like those young awe-struck first Beatles fans or
like we were when we first saw them on the Ed Sullivan show. She could relate just as much to
them, even all these decades later. Somehow their songs were able to still capture all those
moments in time and the emotions. And it wasnt just the Babyboomers, like me who had
grown up with them, but for new generations to come too, it seemed. The girl insisted on
giving me a hug after, and I knew some things would always feel the same. Yeah Yeah Yeah