Charles Liu: Episode 29
Happy Beatles Day, everybody!
I don’t even own a video game console, so I probably won’t be getting Beatles: Rock Band, but I wouldn’t mind the Stereo Box. Did you know that the only Beatles albums I’ve listened to in their entirety are Sgt. Pepper’s and Revolver? For someone like me, who is both obsessive about music and proud of being so obsessive, that’s almost shameful. I guess it’s because The Beatles are so big, there never seemed to be a compelling reason to seriously dig into their catalog the way I did and do with so many other bands. I’ve probably heard the bulk of The Beatles’ output simply by being alive, you know? They’re not going anywhere. Always plenty of time to get caught up on The Beatles. Plus, and this is kind of an ugly music nerd thing, but I’ve never felt that Beatles fandom provides that same level of secret-club exclusivity that you get from being a huge fan of other bands, even those as popular as R.E.M. (my own personal Beatles). I have friends who are Beatles obsessives, and they love the music and study the music and the music means a lot to them, and seriously that is awesome, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that saying “I love the Beatles” is like saying “I love chocolate.” You know the self-proclaimed chocoholics, the ones who are constantly declaring how they adore chocolate, they must have chocolate, ooh chocolate chocolate chocolate? Yeah, no duh. Chocolate is delicious. The Beatles are awesome. These are things that we all agreed on long ago. You hardly even need to say it.
Why am I being so sarcastic about The Beatles? I’m actually really excited about hearing these new remasters. Not as excited as I am about the ongoing R.E.M. remaster project, but still…Anyway, when I was a kid one of my favorite books was Why Things Are by Joel Achenbach, which had a fascinating chapter on why The Beatles are considered the greatest band of all time. I must have read that thing a hundred times, even though at the time I don’t think I could have hummed a single Beatles tune. The answer, as you might guess, boiled down to “godlike genius + rigorous practice + stroke of luck,” but it was chock full of little details and stories that held real power for a 12-year-old kid convinced of his own godlike genius and future importance. Highly recommended if you can track down a copy.