Fifty-two years ago, the Beatles—the band we all know and love—released their first debut album, Please Please Me. No one, especially the Beatles, could anticipate how big they would one day become. Although their music was released during the 60s and 70s, so much of our musical culture in the U.S. is tied in some ways to the Beatles. The Fab Four were true visionaries in every aspect of the word.
Professor in the French Studies Department at the University of Puget Sound, Steve Rodgers, commented on the impact he believes the Beatles have had. In addition to teaching French, he also teaches a humanities class called “It’s Only Rock and Roll: Rock from Cradle to Adolescence” where he spends a good portion of the class dedicated to the music of the Beatles.
“There is a gaping hole in your cultural frame of reference if you are unfamiliar with the Beatles in the U.S. today. If you are going to have any sort of understanding of popular history both here in the states and in the world, you have to know the Beatles,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers believes his generation has done a good job of teaching my generation to keep the spirit of the Beatles alive.
“They have a crucial role in American musical history. They had an ear for harmonies, melodies and instrumental accompaniment that was unseen before them,” Rodgers said.
In an article by Fox News, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester John Covach discusses why he believes the Beatles will continue to be remembered.
“The idea that rock musicians should write and perform their own music, for instance, or that they should attempt to say something interesting in the lyrics, or strive to develop new sounds, or strive to explore adventurous stylistic integrations with pop—all are now deeply woven into the fabric of rock culture,” Covach said.
It is very unlikely that we are going to see a band like the Beatles again. The Beatles have been awarded six Diamond albums, as well as 24 Multi-Platinum albums, 39 Platinum albums and 45 Gold albums in the United States. In the UK, the Beatles have four Multi-Platinum albums, four Platinum albums, eight Gold albums and one Silver album. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. They are also the best-selling band in history. The Beatles have sold between 600 million and over 1 billion units worldwide. They reached more of the world than any other band probably will.
In an interview with CNN, former Rolling Stone associate editor Robert Greenfield compared the Beatles to Picasso.
“People are still looking at Picasso. People are still looking at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary, more creative and more distinctive than The Beatles were,” Greenfield said.
“There was a natural charisma that each one of them had individually and then as a group there was a sort of weird alchemy that came together and all of their individual charisma was rolled up as a band,” Rodgers said.
“Fifty years from now, the recounting of the ‘Beatlemania’ phenomenon will merely provide colorful context; it is primarily the music and the changes it provoked that will endure. Looking back 50 years, that’s what America gets to celebrate and relive all over again: the music that transformed a generation and became the soundtrack of our lives. ‘With love, from me to you,’ indeed,” Covach said.
The impact of the Beatles is undeniable. Some may say that in 50 years or 100 years they will be irrelevant and while nothing is impossible, it does not seem likely. Besides producing great music, the Beatles influenced so many of our lives. The four of them together shared a powerful, awe-inspiring force that can be seen in their videos and heard in their music. The Beatles will continue to live through all of us and those who come after us. Their music speaks for itself, as it is truly the most artistic and marvelous music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.