Things I’m Supposed To Love But Can’t Stand: The Beatles

No, not “The Beatles” as in “everything they ever did”.

The Fab Four that got off the plane at LaGuardia and appeared on Ed Sullivan?  They were one amazing band – all exaggerated backbeat and fearless looping harmonies and everything that was good about skiffle and white-boy R’nB all rolled into one.

The band that did Rubber Soul and Revolver?  With the fascinating harmonies and stuttering rhythms (“She Said”) and the palpable sense they were wallowing in the pure joy of being able to create music for a living? Amazing stuff.

Even Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has its joys.   But between the grooves the rot was showing.  Where once there was joy and wit and the pure fun of playing rock and roll (even very inventive rock and roll) in front of a crowd, there was a new, introverted, baroque sensibility creeping in.  And while Pepper was a great record, it only got worse.

Over the rest of the band’s career (and it’s kinda funny to think that “the rest of their career” was only three more years, and their entire career as a superstar band was shorter than the run of That Seventies Show), though…

…well, I’ll cop to it.  I can’t stand most of it.  Sure, there are enjoyable, even fantastic, moments.  But there is no Beatles album after Pepper that I can listen to all the way through without tuning out and looking for something else.  From the self-indulgent baroque noodling of Abbey Road to the self-indulgent psychedelia of Magical Mystery Tour to the self-indulgent self-indulgence of The White Album, everything the Beatles did after Sergeant Pepper bores me stiff.

Espectially White Album.  After a lifetime of hearing friends tell me how absolutely freaking essential it is, I just have to respond for the record; The White Album is the most overrated record ever hatched upon the world. Not boring.  Not bad.  Just overrated.

You can disagree.  I expect many of you will.  Go for it.  But after thirty-odd years of trying, I can not find a way around it; The White Album doesn’t even rise to the level of “doing nothing for me”; it just falls flat.

Perhaps it’s the sound of John Lennon seizing control of the band; Lennon/McCartney were geniuses – together.  Separately?  McCartney was a featherweight popster, and Lennon was a misanthropic mope.  Up through Sergeant Pepper, they cancelled each others’ worst characteristics out.  After?


Every time.

22 thoughts on “Things I’m Supposed To Love But Can’t Stand: The Beatles

  1. I like their recordings that were made from late 64 to early 66.

    Part of some repulsion may be due to getting tired of the baby boomers narcissism.

  2. Angryclown’s right there with ya, Mitch. Gots more Stones and Kinks in the CD library than Beatles.

  3. CD library? Huh.

    Is that what you call your wife’s purse AC? Does she have both of your stones, or are you allowed to be a half-sack man?

  4. Yeah, Beatles suck.

    Viet Cong-loving, atheist, Commies.

    Imagine all the people sharing all the world?

    Don’t have to, we’re living it in Obama’s Amerika.

  5. And here I thought I was the only one who believed the Beetles were massively overrated, at least when they stopped having fun and started having what they believed to be deep thoughts and messages.

  6. Going with Kermit on this one, when you talk boring self-indulgence it starts with Bruce and ends with Springsteen. But this isn’t about Mr. Scialfa. I do agree The White Album is overrated, but certainly not horrible. Abbey Road is as good as it gets. And if you can forget that Magical Mystery Tour is based on one of the worst (and, I agree, self-indulgent) ideas in music history with that bad tv movie, the album is very good.

    You didn’t mention Let it Be? Or do you consider that a Phil Spector album?

  7. Early and mid-period Beatles are better, no doubt. And the White Album is self-indulgent, no doubt. Still like it, though. But if I had to choose one Beatles album, it would be Revolver.

    I do suspect that the best thing the Beatles did was to break up, before the inevitable decline set in. It prevented the Beatles equivalent of Goats Head Soup.

    How about this one: Elvis vs. Chuck Berry? If you have an opinion you’d like to share on that, I’d sure like to read it.

  8. Have you ever heard Cheap Trick’s cover of Magical Mystery Tour? I’d submit that it’s more listenable than the original, and during the fade out at the end they throw in a few bars of the melody from I Am The Walrus. Clearly a tribute, but sometimes a smart ass American interpretation is just what a song needs…

    Not a Cheap Trick fanatic by any means, but it’s a touch stone to my woe-begone youth. Simple, loud, play it in the garage with your friends, with a couple of pillows stuffed in the bass drum vibe. Sort of a melodic thrash sound.

  9. I’m largely with Mitch on this… for as much as I have heard the Beatles. Especially the post-Beatles Lennon and Mac. Bor-ring.

    Slash, for all your joking, they were a bunch of semi-Socialists… at least when it came to everyone else’s money. When it came to their own cash and holdings they were fairly good capitalists.

    Give me Knopfler any day of the week.

  10. I would have offered “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, but then I’ve always had a romantic bent.

  11. Slash

    I figured you’d turn up for this one. We’ll always have “Revolver”.



    If you can listen to “Atlantic City” and “Reason To Believe” without finding something to get excited about, then have a “Do Not Resuscitate” order written up. All the epinephrine in the world ain’t gonna get a pulse going.

    And “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a huge excpetion – but then, that’s George Harrison, who is by far my favorite Beatle.

  12. I have fond memories of embarrassing (or at least trying to) the kids/wife on a vacation out west… sing it loud and sing it proud… …mining hills of Dakota there lived…

    How could you not start to sing that song…

    Similar to driving one kid to college… passing through Omaha… …somewhere in middle America…

  13. Love Abbey Road. Don’t love everything they ever did, but I consider them to be the best band in my lifetime.

  14. There’s a few I like but I don’t listen to the Beetles routinely anymore, or the Beach Boys or the Byrds or anything from that era. Its just, well, “its over”. I was in grade school when they were popular.

    Give me something good I haven’t heard 50 times before, or some of the better indie rock/pop with their complex harmonics instead that you have to listen to 20 times just to catch everything.

  15. Sorry Mitch. By the time he recorded Nebraska he was the male equivelent of Stevie Nicks. I couldn’t take it any more.

  16. By the time he recorded Nebraska he was the male equivelent of Stevie Nicks.

    Did Stevie Nicks record Born to Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, and The River – three of the greatest albums in the history of American rock and roll – before her (rhetorical) Nebraska?

    I don’t think so.

    I couldn’t take it any more.

    And yet God loves us all. Vive la difference.

  17. SHE did that one?

    I always thought it was Fleetwood Mac.

    I guess that at the end of every hard-earned day, people find themselves a reason to believe.

  18. Born to Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town were solo albums? Who was that big black guy?

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