Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles and America, Then and Now"

Below are four excerpts from a new e-book by Michael Tomasky called Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles and America, Then and Now. Tomasky undertakes the important task of illuminating the cultural context in America at the time that The Beatles' invasion began. Lots to digest.
- "A Revolution, With Guitars: How The Beatles Changed Everything"
Excerpt: "The Beatles did two big things. First, they popularized—I’d even say they basically invented—the rock’n’roll two-electric guitar sound. That fundamental rock’n’roll line-up—guitars, bass, drums, emulated millions of times—comes from them. Second, they broke down the wall between teen music and adult music, a wall that had been insuperable until then. And not just with Sgt. Pepper—from the start."
- "Before the Earthquake Hit: When The Beatles Landed in America"
Excerpt: "There existed a sharp divide then: Teenagers bought 45-inch singles, and adults bought albums. The 12-inch, 33-rpm album was invented in 1948 by Columbia Records chiefly for the sake of classical music fans. Until then, if you wanted to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth (around 65 minutes) on the old 78’s, you need around ten discs, sometimes turning them over in the middle of movements! So the LP was a revelation in its day, as amazing as Pandora is to us. An entire symphony on one record, with virtually no hiss? And having to turn the record over only once? Incredible! But albums were expensive, too—in the late ’50s, around $2.98, sometimes more. That would be around $23 today, adjusted for inflation, and this in a society where most people had far less disposable income than they do now. This is a big part of why LPs were for adults, along with the fact that no pop idol could cobble together 12 songs of any quality."
- "‘You’ve Got to Be Kidding’: Why Adults Dismissed The Beatles in 1964"
Excerpt: "The idea that this was all potentially quite subversive wouldn’t really take root for another year or two. So the general posture of the adult world, in early 1964, was a kind of dismissive indulgence. In those days, The New York Times did not write about this sort of falderal; neither did The New Yorker or any other serious magazine. “Music” was classical music, jazz, and Broadway."
- "Was The Beatles’ Music Really That Unique? Yeah, It Totally Was."
Excerpt: "Theirs was the first music that took these influences and combined them into a new sound that was driven by the interplay between two guitars—two electric guitars, going along together, playing different parts, both playing at a high volume, driving the sound. Others may have come along and quickly taken matters to even higher volumes—the Stones and the Kinks and the Who. But combining blues, country, pop, music hall, and Broadway into a two-guitar sound called rock’n’roll was something The Beatles did first."

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