moby-dick-(or-the-whale)-52
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THE BEATLES REIGN

24 March 2007

I am still surprised somewhat when I listen to music from the Beatles and come to the conclusion that after some 40 years, their music is still highly avant-gardist. Faced with the musical urge for renewel in their songs, it is embarrassing to see that the vast majority of songs today adheres so desperately to the same boring structure: couplet, refrain, couplet, refrain, bridge, refrain, refrain. How utterly dull!

Take Hey Jude, where a nice song of 2 minutes leads up to an exuberant, musical celebration over twice as long!

Take A Day in the Life, though more traditional in form, which has the most exotic of bridges and an orchestral climax.

Examples abound. 40 year old music, nowadays still belonging to the vanguard. Amazing. But it doesn't stop there. A small, hour-long viewing of one of the dreadfully commercial music stations on TV makes for the depression observation that lyrics usually reach no higher than the level of nursery rhymes. The words may have a syllable or two more, but the poetic quality is non-existent. Just because something rhymes doesn't mean they're good lyrics. Once again, we turn to the Beatles to find a veritable treasure chest, a cornucopia of good use of language in songs.

Though their music is deceptive. It's easy to see just endless streams of maddeningly saccharine lovesongs, an overindulgence in Paul McCartney's obsession with romanticism. And truth be told, this is an agreeable opinion: how many songs on any CD can laud love-love-love without anyone save for the most romantically deluded highschool girl not cringing? But the lyrics save everything. Under the skin of their simplicity lie wonderfully well-chosen lyrics; showing a lust for playing with words and sentences. Norwegian Wood starts with 'I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.' It's simple, yet just defiant enough of the clich, that it becomes highly palatable, even very enjoyable. Though I'll always prefer their later, wackier stuff. I am the walrus indeed!

But analyses aside, the only thing that I need is my gut feeling. Listening to the Beatles is a wholly enjoyable experience. Listening to most contemporary pop music is not. Perhaps it's time that musicians started using some Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds again when writing their songs.

Roderick.