I made a passing comment within the recent posting on the Banshees cover of Dear Prudence that ‘this isn’t the time nor place to go into great detail as to why I have no great affection for the works of Harrison, Lennon, McCartney or Starr’ – to which RH responded with ‘Can we hear why you frown on the fab four?’
I have tried over the years to avoid negativity within this and the predecessor blog but I suppose I can’t use that as an excuse to hide from the question posed by RH.
I’ll open up my asking you all to take into consideration that my year of birth was 1963 and as such I began to develop a real interest in pop music in a period when the band formerly known as The Beatles had broken up.
My listening at the ages of 8-10 were restricted to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show as I got ready for school and then whatever shows happened to be played in whatever house I was in at weekends, many of which I spent with my grandparents where the transistor set was constantly tuned to the Easy Listening Station known as Radio 2.
At home, my parents had a modest record collection, none of which included The Beatles. Nor did any of my aunts, uncles or cousins have any great affection for them.
In short, at an age where I was really absorbing so much of what was happening around me, my exposure to The Beatles was limited and didn’t really stretch beyond songs I might hear as part of ‘The Golden Hour’ or as requests on ‘Family Favourites’.
Strangely enough, I did find myself really liking the album Band on The Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, one that my dad had bought on the recommendation of his mate. It’s strange to think about this and realise that my dad would have been in his mid-30s at the time of its release, and while he and his mates would seemed really old to me, there is no doubt that when they went to the pub of an evening they talked at length about many things that I would later do at that age – i.e. music and sport.
I did make a connection with Wings and The Beatles, but to my 10-year old ears, the former were far superior to the latter, their songs just sounding so much better.
Fast forward a couple of years and at the age of 12 I have my own Dansette record player and a handful of singles of my own, all of which were chart fodder bought on the back of loving what I was hearing on the weekly chart rundown and appearances on Top of The Pops. I have no time for old music of any sort whatsoever….it was now all about playing the current plastic until I get bored with it or until the next glam-rock stomper had found its way into my collection.
I didn’t even listen to any of dad’s albums via the big headphones any more – something that had always been taken as a real treat and was often allowed as a reward for some achievement or other at school or for helping out with chores at home. Besides, Venus and Mars, the new album by Wings didn’t hold the same appeal as the previous record.
Next thing you know, I’m interested in girls and dancing and I’m buying disco records. And then, like so many others who just happened to be of that age, I became smitten by punk/new wave. ‘No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones’ made perfect sense…….
I’m being flippant with my reference to the Clash lyric from the song 1977….but any respect for Paul McCartney was lost when he inflicted the awful Mull of Kintyre on the listening public, and coming from Scotland, the song had a particular cringe factor.
But what about the other half of the song-writing partnership of the Fab Four? Well, I can’t deny that I was aware of Imagine as it was played an awful lot on the radio shows at the weekends, but I thought it was boring…that was about as far as my vocabulary extended in those days. Incidentally, I still do.
Oh, and there’s also that Christmas song that he wrote which you couldn’t escape at a particular time of the year….it wasn’t a patch on Slade or Wizzard as far as I was concerned….so nope, John Lennon didn’t do anything for the young me.
My greatest exposure to The Beatles came in the wake of the murder of John Lennon in December 1980. Not only did his latest solo album get all sorts of airplay (as well as a critical reassessment as it had been panned on release), but the solo back catalogue and the songs of The Beatles were all over every radio station for months, and if anything, this made me all the more resentful of the band as I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about….there was just far too much in the way of new, exciting, energetic and meaningful music all around me to take any interest in their old stuff.
Now….the thing is, not all music from the 60s was an automatic turn-off. I had picked up on The Kinks, largely thanks to Ray Davies being name checked by my hero Paul Weller, but then again I still didn’t get the fuss about The Who, the ‘old’ band most closely linked with Woking’s finest. I even found myself liking some of the stuff by The Rolling Stones and in due course would find myself going to see them at the Glasgow Apollo in 1982.
I’m guessing a few of you will be scratching your heads at all of this given there is no consistency in my line of thinking; yes, I could be accused of being belligerent in my unwillingness to embrace the songs of The Beatles. But hang on…..some of the songs themselves are fine, but only when covered by those bands that I do have time for, especially when they turn them into something which sounds new and original rather than a cover. I just find the output of the most successful ever rock’n’roll band to be dull and tedious.
PS : I finished this off in advance of reading a contribution to the debate by Echorich via the comments section at the Dear Prudence posting:-
“I completely understand having a natural aversion to The Beatles. Honestly, it isn’t something you can justify with words.”
And that’s it in a nutshell….it would have saved me a couple of hours baring my soul and recounting my very young years!