Monday, September 14, 2009


ROBERTA: The New York Times this week has been full of the Beatles--news of their freshly-released video game and the new boxed set of juiced-up albums from the fab four. My husband and I have enjoyed the press--we both grew up loving the Beatles. He was a ninth grader and remembers well their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was in grade school and sent off to bed before it aired. Naturally, I watched it from the top of the stairs. My man was definitely Paul--no contest. (Though I never did send him a package of homemade birthday hats and decorations, as I did Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees several years later.) I don't even play video games and yet I'm tempted to buy this one. In my mind, they were a prodigious talent--and it was fascinating to watch their evolving personal and musical styles as times changed. I believe my favorite album of all time was Rubber Soul.

But obviously not everyone feels this way. Here's a quote from Ian Bogost that could put any nostalgic Baby Boomer in her place: "So I ask: must we appreciate The Beatles? Must we reminisce with the newly aged about their privileged lives as naive youthful radicals, and then later as greedy yuppie centrists, and then finally as truculent conservative majority?"

Ouch. Now off to you, JR. Beatle mania or aging boomer madness?

RHYS: As another huge Beatles fan, my devotion to them is simple. Their music was tuneful, intelligent and made me feel good. None of the stuff written today does anything for me, and I don't think it's because I'm approaching my mature years.

JAN: I think we baby boomers are an easy target for nostalgia marketing, and let's face it that's what any of this reminiscence stuff is really about: MARKETING.

But hey, who DIDN'T love the Beatles? I had a crush on George Harrison. Believe it or not, Paul never even appealed to me. And who could argue the Beatles weren't a dynamic influence on the culture? What I loved best about them though -- and this is from learning their tunes on guitar -- is how much they evolved and grew musically as a band. And what is also little known about them is how hard working they were -- which is a fascinating anecdote in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.

HALLIE: Confession: the Beatles never really did that much for me. Though I loved the movie Yellow Submarine so much I even bought the calendar. Note: the calendar, not the album. I still have it somewhere. Music's never been a big thing for me...nor is any kind of celebrity. Talk art or food and I can get passionate.

RO: I don't have the Beatles chip either. It's not that I don't like the music - it just doesn't have any magical, mysterious hold on me. I'm sure we own the last Beatles tome that was released a few years back and it's still in its shrinkwrap. Now..Eric Clapton, that's another story.

HANK: Oh, dear. Mania. I'm with you, Roberta. I watched the Ed Sullivan show, glued to the couch, sobbing. Sobbing! Age, what, 13? I was vice-president of the Midwest Chapter of the National Beatles Fan Club. I saw them, in concert, twice, at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds. I mean, I kind of saw them, because I was screaming and crying too much. You name a Beatle song, I can sing it.

Plus, if Mom hadn't thrown away all my Beatles memorabilia, I'd be rich. I'm totally a Beatles fan. It was John, for me. My favorite album--oh, Abbey Road. Or maybe Sgt. Pepper. No, the White Album. You get the picture.

ROBERTA: Of course you were the prez of the Midwest Chapter of the Beatle fan club Hank! Priceless! JR readers, Paul, George, and John seem to be taken, but that leaves Ringo for some lucky fan...

And PS, come back often this week--we have three fantastic guests lined up. Tomorrow, the incomparable Kristan Higgins on writing romantic comedy, Wednesday, medieval mystery writer Jeri Westerson, and on Friday, Dr. Charles Atkins, psychiatrist and thriller writer.


  1. Proust had his madeleines, our generation has the Beatles. Love them or hate them, it's hard to erase them--you still remember where you were, what you were doing, when you heard certain songs. (Paul, definitely Paul.)

  2. George was my fave, absolutely. My sisters and I each took a friend to see them in Dodger Stadium in 1966, while my near-saintly father sat in the parking lot reading for several hours in our station wagon. Tickets were a whopping $6 each! We weren't allowed to listen to them at home, though, except through the single earbud (not what we called it back then) connected to a transistor radio. My parents were not fond of the music.

    While I loved it that my sons enjoyed listening to the Beatles as they were growing up, I am not in the least tempted to buy a video game featuring them.


  3. Music began, for me, with the Beatles. It was like they invented it. And you can listen to most of their work today and not find it dated. I'm still a huge fan (getting huger every day I don't exercise, in fact).

    My favorite? Rubber Soul or Abbey Road, I'd say. Am I tempted to get the video game? I confess I am tempted, although I'd probably never play it. But I'm told there's heretofore unreleased tapes of them chattering in the studio, and that's what I'd want to hear. Anybody buying the remastered CDs?

  4. Edith, great story! Jeff, those tapes of the Beatles chattering would be cool...

    Let's all go in on one copy of the video game and we can play together...

  5. Yeah yeah yeah, I'm totally in on a Jungle Red copy of the game.

    The other day, I said to my husband, in total seriousness--what think about getting the Beatles video game? (You have to know we have NO video games, and sigh, wouldn't know what to do with one if we had it. But I did judge a Guitar Hero contest a month or so ago.)

    Anyway--Jonathan looked at me as if I'd said, wanna go skateboarding? So I guess that was a no.

    But I hear it's terrific.