Music has been taken under the wing of evolution, and no, I’m not talking about finches or the Galápagos Islands. Genres stemming way back from the 1890s, started with four simple categories of folk, gospel, classical and world; we have now branched out to rock ‘n’ roll, pop, country, rap and increasingly more precise genres.
But if genres are constantly expanding, then why must fans punish their favorite musicians by forcing them to be stuck in loops of the same recycled guitar riffs and basic chorus lines? How many times have you looked through a band’s YouTube comments and saw “I miss the old them” or “What a bunch of sellouts.”
It’s simpleminded when followers don’t want to accept musicians’ changes or approve of their up-and-coming rise to stardom. I mean, how does that David Bowie song go again? “Ch-ch-changes. Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older, time may change me.”
Listen to Bowie on this one. Change can completely transform artists for the better, especially if it means they are finally growing up. If musicians don’t modify themselves, then their music may never live up to its full potential.
The Beatles are a prime example of an evolved band, from their doo-wop and simple covers, to their psychedelic and much less lovestruck approach to their later records, following their seventh studio album “Revolver.”
Now let’s take this back to the mid-1960’s, the start of the British Invasion. When The Beatles arrived they created hoards of fans, not just the typical screaming teenage girls, but also the not-so-typical screaming teenage boys, adults, dogs, cats — people of all ages that came out to see the sensational Fab Four. They created Beatlemania, an entire movement dedicated to their arrival and the insane madness that came along with their fandom.
But imagine this, what if the Beatles had never transformed? Although they arrived in America with a large fan base already established, what if they only played covers for their entire career? The unoriginal and dull “Twist and Shout,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Devil in Her Heart” and the rest of the never-ending list of covers would play over and over again as the band’s greatest and only hits.
And don’t even get me started on the insanely repetitive lyrics found on their albums released prior to “Revolver.” “A Hard Day’s Night” is one of their most successful albums that peaked at No.1 on the charts and stayed there for 21 complete weeks. But when compared to the Beatles’ later albums, it’s easy to see how redundant the lyrics are in some of the most beloved songs on the record, like “I Should Have Known Better.”
The song has a cute, feel-good, repetitive rhythm surrounded by harmonica and scruffy, seductive vocal performances by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I obviously love this song as much as the next Fab Four enthusiast, but the verses simply jump back and forth between the same lyrics throughout the song.
“I Should Have Known Better” is a classic, but it’s not long until I start to think “Alright got it, you’re madly in love with this girl, not much different from any other Beatles song during that era.”
Without the necessary changes they made from an innocent, bowl cut boy band to grown men with challenging perceptions of reality, then how could fans ever create an everlasting love for such masterpieces as “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Across the Universe,” “Eleanor Rigby,” – even “Hey Jude” for crying out loud! Songs like these are the ones that gave me goosebumps on a dark, silent night, not “She Loves You” or “Roll Over Beethoven.”
Judging from the Beatles’ “Love” album, which is used for Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” theatrical production (an acrobatic show with a compelling storyline told by Beatles songs) my opinion doesn’t stand alone.
The album is a remarkable compilation mixed together perfectly to sound like every song fits right after the other like a jigsaw puzzle. “Love” contains 26 songs; with so many on a single album, one would think that the soundtrack has been evenly split to cater to the Beatles’ work during the British Invasion but only four tracks come from their early music.
The Beatles completely changed their image, rhythm, lyrical brilliance and even record labels, but they were never stuck. They continued to grow and create an impression on generations to come with the Cirque du Soleil show, “The Beatles: Rock Band,” feature films and the most recent film “Across the Universe.” They’ve crafted themselves into one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most beloved bands, and it’s all because they had a little growing up to do.
After taking a trip down Penny Lane, why does the idea of musicians reinventing themselves seem to be a horrendous and jaw-dropping concept? A true fan would go along the journey with their favorite artists instead of nitpicking at their essence and having heart attacks over every slight modification.
But don’t just listen to me, take another note from the Beatles: “We can work it out. Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.”