In a Perfect World: September 9th Would Be National “Talk About the Beatles” Day
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 9, 2009
As most of you probably know already, today was a pretty big day for the Fab Four. The band’s entire back catologue has finally gotten the remastered treatment that the band’s cult has been eternally crying for, and the boys became the first musical artist to get their very own entry in the Rock Band catalogue. I’m having friends over to play the game tonight, and I’m certainly pretty excited for it and may or may not post something about it later if I find that I have anything new or interesting to say. But more than the game, and certainly more than the reissues (I might notice the difference, but I really might not–I suck at audiophilia), there’s something else that’s really gotten me pumped today–the fact that just about everyone in the world who seriously cares about music is, for one reason or another, talking about The Beatles.
The Beatles are a band that really no longer needs any further analysis. There’s been so many books written, documenatries filmed, compilations assembled, lectures given, and critical reassessments awarded to their catalogue, from every possible angle and with every possible intention, that there is very close to literally nothing new to say about them. (I should know–my very own uncle Richie Unterberger wrote a 390-page book just on their unreleased demos). Which is probably why when commissioned to write a review of their recently reissued back catalogue for the Onion, pop culture scribe Chuck Klosterman balked at the gargantuan and thankless task, and instead wrote a bizarrely satirical essay that seemed to be poking equal fun at the band’s music, myth, critics and fanbase, as well as at himself for agreeing to write the damn thing in the first place. Hell, I guarantee you that somewhere in this fair country, there’s another little-read blogger writing the very same article I’m writing right now. There’s no new tricks to be found with the Beatles.
This is why, genereally speaking, I avoid the Beatles in my day-to-day life. Not to say that I abhor hearing them in passing or that I reflexively jump to change the dial whenever they come on the rado, exactly, but I rarely, if ever, go out of my way to listen to them. Why should I? As pointed out so succinctly in the 1998 romantic comedy Sliding Doors, The Beatles have been with us for so much of our lives, in such a deeply-ingrained, never-have-to-think-about-it manner, that most of us feel like we came out of the womb knowing the words to all of their songs. Any mystery that The Beatles could have had for me has long since passed, and listening to them now is almost a redundant experience. Their music exists inside of me like paintings in a hallway–no longer meaningful, no longer demanding of attention, but always present.
However, to take that attitude to The Beatles 365 days a year would a huge disservice to them–the Beatles’ songs are still wonderful and beautiful and ceaselessly vibrant, not merely museum pieces to be noticed and moved on from. That’s why I vote that one day a year–which may as well be today, given the whole thing with the Fab Four and the number nine–we declare to be National “Talk About the Beatles” Day. All day, we listen to their music, and we play along their music. In schools, teachers will instruct about their music and how it relates to their respective feels–the literary qualities, the technological qualities, the historic qualities, the rhythmic qualities, even the couple songs that have foreign-language segments. Movie theaters will hold day-long showings of flicks by them and about them. Google, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace will all adopt Beatles-related themes.
But most importantly, it will be the one day a year when it is actively encouraged to talk to your friends and neighbors about The Beatles. It will be the one day when you can talk about how underrated the band’s earlier songs were, about how Sgt. Pepper was really overrated and Magical Mystery Tour was the superior album, about how nice the harmonies on “If I Needed Someone” are and about how accidentally ahead of their time “Wild Honey Pie” and “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” were. It’ll be a day for scene-by-scene dissections of Help!, for debates between stereo and mono, for getting high with your parents and rhapsodizing about the drums on “Tomorrow Never Knows.” It’ll be a day where we all openly acknowledge and revel in the fact that The Beatles were the greatest rock and roll band of all time.
And then after that, we can all go back to our regular music lives–as tomorrow, we will no doubt return to bitching about Blueprint 3, making cases for or against Weezer’s new single, and wondering just how the hell much longer Black Eyed Peas can possibly stay at #1 on the pop charts, mostly shelving the Beatles talk for the next 364 days. In an era in which it is not humanly possible for The Beatles to be appreciated any more than they already are–only less–I think it would be just about the greatest service we could do for them and their music. So mark your calendars, now, fellas–you certainly wouldn’t want to schedule a Rolling Stones concert or a day of general Monkees reappropriation then by mistake.