The recent release of The Beatles: Rock Band video game. The boxed sets of remastered versions of all the Fab Four's U.K.-released CDs. The multitudes eager to buy it all. It sounds like the band has all the love it needs.
But there's also the hate. Hilarious hate. Hate that a music connoisseur--one who even loves the Beatles--can enjoy. BBC News ran this great story today on Beatles hate websites: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8246313.stm . "I just think they are either childlike and simple or rather leaden and pompous - one or the other all the time," says London radio show host Robert Elm.
It's an old, old, old controversy among music connoisseurs. Back in the 1960s, the big debate was "Beatles or Stones?" (It's a question whose answer, waayy later circa 1997, I know influenced one person from deciding whether or not to date someone.) The argument has always been that the Stones played "real" rock, taking to a new level the gritty, blues-based, electric guitar-driven race music of early-to-mid-century--and that the Beatles were so lousy at playing rockabilly and blues that they ended up inventing their own sound. (The Beatles themselves admit this.) Well, George Harrison was decent.
I can understand the argument of pompousness that Mr. Elm made, but I think it's more applicable to certain Beatles fans, rather than the band. I remember about eight or nine years ago, sitting at a table in a bar with a friend and his friends, all of us in our 30s or 40s. One of them starts talking about how "drugs made the Beatles great." You know, the kind of discourse about creativity-by-rebellion that people have when they're 14 and just discovering music on a serious level. These people were old enough to know better, pretty pretentious while not being particularly knowledgeable about music, and merely rehashing what they heard someone cooler than them once say.
That being said, I do love me some Beatles, specifically Revolver onward, for what they could and did do. In a few short years the Liverpudlians went from "I wanna hold your hand" to "why don't we do it in the road"! My sophomore year in high school was highlighted by the five days it took a radio station to change owners, during which time they played nonstop Beatles songs with no on-air personality to ruin them. And no one can deny the raw, gritty, headbanging (!) goodness of "Helter Skelter," my fave-est Beatle.
Nor can one deny that the Beatles were adept at making lemons into lemonade--that is, taking their inability to play newfangled edgy blues-based music that the kids were calling rock and roll, and coming up with a completely new sound. You need to like the Beatles for what they tried to accomplish, for embracing their failures, and for ultimately putting out songs that sounded like no one else. Whether they were good or bad.