We could be anywhere and hear a certain song and…Bam! We are instantaneously transported to a different time and place. It’s incredible how music does that and how just a few lines from a song can set our endorphins ablaze. I’ll show my age here a bit, but if I hear the Moody Blues’ “Knights in White Satin”, I’m right back in the gym at a high school dance. Frankie Valli’s “Can’t take My Eyes Off You” became an anthem for my close circle of friends (and for many others, I’m sure) after the 1978 film, “The Deer Hunter.” Google “The Deer Hunter bar scene”. I cannot count the number of times we sang along with that song at the top of our lungs (like they do in that movie scene), including at my wedding reception.
Our individual memories are not necessarily timeless, though, for everyone. But certain artists or songs are. The Beatles definitely fall into that category. I was reminded of this recently when I spent a night at The Vault at Victor Records in Berlin, New Jersey, which compelled me to write about it. This is a cool venue established in 2015 as an education facility dedicated to the appreciation of art techniques and sound recording. The entertainment aspect of the venue includes performances (weekends only) of excellent bands covering the timeless work of influential artists. The night we attended was titled “The Beatles: Front to Back.” The band played the entire “Meet the Beatles” and “Let it Be” albums. It was incredible! Talk about blazing endorphins.
Many bands have stood the test of time and remained together for 25-plus years or more. Look at the Rolling Stones. This makes what the Beatles achieved even more impressive, since their run together really only lasted about six years, if you span their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 to McCartney’s departure from the band in April of 1970. That’s the world’s memory of The Beatles even though their roots were planted by Lennon and McCartney in their mid-teens in 1957. That original band, The Quarryman, saw members come and go including Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best (go) and George Harrison and Ringo Starr (come). There were name changes to the Silver Beetles and eventually The Beatles. Early years performing mostly in Germany led the final “Fab Four” lineup to their first recording session at Abbey Road studio in September of 1962. The song “Love Me Do” was born and the rest is history.
The numbers are mind-boggling. They are the greatest selling musical artist(s) of all time, with more than 600 million albums sold worldwide. They sold 1.6 billion (with a “b”!) singles with 21 reaching No. 1, more than any other band. Several artists have knocked themselves out of that top spot with their next single. But The Beatles went one better. They tripled-up with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” replaced by “She Loves You” replaced by “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Never happened before or since.
The Beatles and their music are truly timeless. Prove it to yourself. Listen to the “White Album” recorded in 1968. Play it forward……and backwards.