Monday, February 20, 2012

The Beatles Golden Age

The Beatles have lots of eras: Mop Top Beatlemania, Psychedelic and The Apple/Hippie eras are the categories I think of. And each era has its own sub-categories. One of those being what I call 'The Golden Age'.

The Golden Age is a part of the Mop Top Beatlemania era, but the later bit. It started in November 1964 with the release of the single 'I Feel Fine/She's a Woman' and ends in August 1966 with Revolver.

'I Feel Fine' ushered in a new sound, and the track opens with feedback (arguably the first time anyone had used it on a record). Gone was the cheeky 'Mersey' sound. The B-Side, 'She's a Woman' was new, too. Paul McCartney provided a bluesy vocal unlike anything we'd heard him do before.

For the next 20 months, The Beatles not only released top-notch songs that proved they were not just a fad or flash in the pan, but they had an image that was both cool and friendly enough that kids, teenagers and adults could all agree to love them at the same time.

Prior to this Golden Age, some considered them outrageous with their long hair and screaming fans. Serious music folks thought of them as being too simplistic and without any depth.

After the Golden Age, they were too 'far out' and controversial. Drugs, the Marharihsi and Yoko Ono. For some, it was a bit much.

1965 was probably their 'perfect' year, with the film Help!, the singles 'We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper', 'Eight Days a Week' and 'Yesterday' and LPs Beatles VI, Help! and Rubber Soul. And their ABC Saturday morning cartoon show debuted, too.

1966 was also a knockout year. It started out with the singles 'Nowhere Man' and 'Paperback Writer'. But they hit a snag with the famous butcher cover on Yesterday and Today and when John Lennon said they were 'more popular than Jesus'.

And while most people thought the Lennon comment was taken out of context (or that he was probably right or at least had a point), The Beatles were no longer viewed as wholesome. At the same time, and only a few months after the butcher cover scandal, their psychedelic era began with the last track on Revolver. Lennon sang 'of the beginning' as the song and LP faded out. But it was really the end of that Golden Age. In early 1967 with 'Strawberry Fields' and a new look (facial hair for all and National Health glasses for John) we knew things would never be the same. They didn't want to just hold our hands anymore.

It was inevitable and don't get me wrong. 'The White Album' is my favorite Beatles' LP. But I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I think back on when the movie Help! and songs like 'Every Little Thing' were what The Beatles were.


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