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The Influence of The Beatles on The World

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Words: 1901 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 1901|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Like some form of fervent super glue, The Beatles’ sound is forever stuck to the image of 60s music. After the end of the 50s rhythm and blues era, the middle ages of music lied awaiting a sound to revive the industry, and so The Beatles were primed and ready to create a brand new psychedelic genre of music. Of course, there was some great and interesting music coming out of Detriot, Memphis, and Chicago; but for the most part, the industry softened – the music was candied, bleached of anything that might produce an impertinent sound. The Beatles tinkered with chords, harmonies, and modern audio art in hopes of creating a new, psychedelic sound that conveniently reflected the growing use of cannabis in the 60s. No musician before The Beatles merged music the way the four mop-topped boys did. From rock to soul, classical to pop, grass-roots, and even Indian (sometimes all in one song) the Beatles’ unique sound was unheard of. Bob Dylan once said in an interview “Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous. You wonder why so many try and copy what they created.” Many believe this revolution of sound paved the way for bands like Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and artists like Elton John and Sting to later branch out of.

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What made these four Liverpool lads so inconceivably successful though? Maybe it was the blend of pure talent, a visionary producer, and their years in Hamburg playing 7 hours a night that gave them the foothold into the start of a British invasion, whatever it was there’s one undeniable truth the American people don’t need to be sold on; The Beatles were good. Most bands have one truly great songwriter. The best bands have two. The Beatles had three. Paul or John could have easily had enough material to create bands on their own, and later George fortified them with unexpected talent, writing “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The Beatles were also the first band to ever use feedback in a song. During one of the Beatles’ early recording sessions, John Lennon unintentionally pressed his electrified acoustic guitar against an amplifier, and so a virginal audio form was created. The beginning of “I Feel Fine” was the first to feature it, and the rest is on rock and roll history. The new audio trick allowed longer sustained tones that were traditionally difficult to produce using natural playing techniques. The sound was totally new — so full of joy and excitement, and, by the standards of the day (this is an important and extremely underappreciated point), loud. Because of this, the Beatles can also be credited, respectfully, with the popularity of electric guitars and really the subsequent hard rock genre that ended up engulfing the 70s. Paul McCartney, the bassist, often gave a song an innovative sound by not playing the root note, instead the third or the fifth. Most famously he used this technique on what is still probably the most instantly recognizable single chord in rock history, the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night.” Say Lennon did play the root note, the G, it would have sounded like an ending, not a beginning. Instead, the chord hangs there lavishly, like a ballerina mid-bounce; over the years the focus on the guitar chord has claimed the most attention, but it’s actually McCartney’s D and his quirky playing techniques that make the general impact so shocking and exhilarating. Now the drums. Poor Ringo always overlooked, even still, he has his special artistry: the open high-hat. A high-hat, essentially, is the rod mounted through two cymbals attached to the sides of a drum set with a pedal to compress the disks together. In most early songs Ringo kept that high-hat open. This diverted the traditional four distinct beats into one rolling, continuous, clatter of sounds (making a constant t-tsch-t-tsch-t-tsch-t-tsch noise). In “I Want to Hold Your Hand” think of the bridge: “And when I touch you, I feel happy inside …” Remember how it gets softer, quieter? What makes that happen? John and George are playing a little softer, sure, but mainly, Ringo has just closed the high-hat. The mood of the song is totally changed — instantly it’s more subdued and intimate. Now try to imagine the song with the high-hat closed through the verse. Completely different song — far less panicky, less pulsing, less everything.

While The Beatles’ introduced a wider music industry, their influence extended farther than just their songs. One of the biggest testaments to that strength is the hold they had over American fashion. “What do you think about when you think of the 60s? Big round glasses, flared pants with funky colors, peace signs? John Lennon’s glasses, striped flares are basically Beatle trademarked, and peace is each of their middle names. I’m not saying they are the only factor, but the amount of influence they had on fashion alone is insane”. Free-flowing, hippie shirts and flared pants were pioneered as Beatle fashion. As with any icon, admirers lusted to be just like the four, and since the group had no shortage of fans, a new sector of fashion emerged up from under their own closets. All of a sudden men were growing their hair out and women were wearing mini skirts. The Beatles also brought boots into fashion. 'Beatle boots,' are tight ankle-length boots, traditionally black and pointed at the toe. Brian Epstein, while perusing London streets in 1963, stumbled upon footwear company Anello & Davide. There Epstein spotted the iconic black Chelsea boots and coined four pairs for each Beatle. From there Beatle fashion was set in stone, and in under a year’s time, the shoe was in a good portion of American men’s closets.

As their music matured, so did their style. Though what we now register in our minds as “The Beatles’ look” their fashion can’t simply be contained into the frame of bell-bottoms and funky-patterned shirts. From monochromatic black and white suits to the St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club era of marching band outfits satiated with epaulets. Nehru jackets, sandals, fringed sleeves, now these looks are inescapable, then they were avante-garde, unorthodox, and quite the scandal. Thousands of people were inclined to dress the way they saw their British icons, and with so much market, mass retail stores would begin selling things that at one time only boutique stores sold. This required more and more designers to design their own versions of things they saw the Beatles wearing. Were all these changes influenced by The Beatles? Yes, but on a larger scale was more informed by the times. As Bob Dylan said “the times they are a’changin” and a change they did, The Beatles simply played the very public part of a collective consciousness.

Synonymous with their wardrobes, their own political thought became revolutionary in the minds of young Americans, propelling the band into a far greater role in history. In the early years of The Beatles, their main concern was the draft. The boys grew up in post-WW2 England, which expected all young men to do two years of compulsory national service. The group, scrawny and certainly unfit to be blasting machine guns, did everything they could to avoid a statutory enlistment (Ringo actually took a job serving in cruise ships in the hope of getting a job in the merchant navy, which would make him exempt from National Service). The Beatles credit these years to their leap into “political awareness,” and from then on all 4 were left-winged. Even still, in their younger days, they kept apolitical, careful to not compromise their cheeky, happy-go-lucky, funster image. In 1966 John Lennon discovered the dangers of tip-toeing into political waters when an innocent statement about religion was taken out of context and led to massive backlash, but as their popularity grew and a safety net fan-base leached on to the band’s every move, the space between their writing and political controversy grew smaller and smaller.

The Beatles and their nonconformist energy are widely credited to the popularity of many defining cultural movements. They obviously had a very liberal approach to drug-use, religion, and acceptance of eastern mysticism, while also being aware of their manager’s homosexuality. It’s also important to note that the Beatles refused to play to segregated audiences in the southern U.S. “Blackbird” was Paul McCartney’s thinly-veiled attempt at writing a song in favor of the civil rights movement happening a the time in the U.S., but it may be “Revolution” that takes the cake as The Beatles most political song. “There were three ‘Revolutions’,” John Lennon explained in 1971, “two songs and one abstract. I don’t know what you’d call it… musique concrète, loops and that, which was a picture of a revolution.” Written in 1968, aside from the two world wars, 1968 was surely the most explosive and divisive year in the 20th century. As the year dawned, the Summer Of Love had mutated into the winter of discontent. Revolution was very much in the air, all around the world. Martin Luther King jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinations, a rise in women’s liberation, clashes between anti-war and civil-rights protesters and police. In 1968, no self-respecting student would be without a Che Guevara poster on their wall. And so, John Lennon wrote “Revolution” as one unfolded before him, elucidating his thoughts on it. In it, John suggested that everything was going to be all right and that maybe people would be better off freeing their minds rather than challenging institutions. But John’s social commentary was more complex than it may have at first appeared, and betrayed his confusion over which side he was on – John sang “Don’t you know that you can count me out/in”, revealing how he was torn between direct action and a non-violent way of bringing about change. Up until the 60s, the idea of merging political thought and music was unheard of. Once Americans recognized that their music wasn’t teeny-bop tunes limited to teenagers, it started to gain the momentum needed for the world to recognize the music as “art”; and once it did, it started to impact other forms of cultural expression too, giving rise to an apostate awareness beginning in the musical realm and eventually spreading into literature, film, and other cultural empires. The Beatles gave rise to the idea that your destiny is your own choosing (i.e. Taxman and Revolution), and so an individual and societal revolution arguably more profound and far-reaching than most political ones emerged alongside catchy tunes and brilliantly solemn ballads.

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The 4 Liverpool lads upended the cultural landscape in such a way that their presence ventured from the music industry to our own closets, and even our ideologies. The Beatles’ music reflected its era (cannabis use, political turmoil, etc.), but also transcended it so that even now it remains, supplementing each successive generation that discovers it. Moreover, because of the popularity of their music, their fashion became widely admired and replicated as well. Though their sound, fashion, or premise would be nothing if it weren’t for the weight it all held. The Beatles came into the spotlight at a time with vast internal conflicts then unified the nation with catchy, yet meaningful metaphors for peace. Ultimately, the Beatles served the world Avante Garde fashion trends, unorthodox musical techniques, and a reconstruction of political thought that later came to define the 60s and the rest of time. 

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Influence Of The Beatles On The World. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-influence-of-the-beatles-on-the-world/
“The Influence Of The Beatles On The World.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-influence-of-the-beatles-on-the-world/
The Influence Of The Beatles On The World. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-influence-of-the-beatles-on-the-world/> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
The Influence Of The Beatles On The World [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Aug 06 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-influence-of-the-beatles-on-the-world/
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