OA: Rock Cesario Column October 17, 2008
E-mail highlights 5 Beatles songs that shaped, changed music in ’60s
I received this e-mail on Oct. 13 from an educator who is as passionate about music as I am, if not more so.
Brett Argo teaches band and music appreciation at East Middle School.
Many of his students have gone onto higher education to study music. We will not be printing a top 10 this week so I can present this entire e-mail to you.
Thanks for your great columns, it is the first thing I read in the paper every Friday. I took longer to write on your Beatles challenge, I could never get it down to five, the least I could do was 10.
So I tried to look at it from my educator’s position, that of a rock ’n’ roll history teacher, and found five songs that I think shaped or totally changed pop/rock music in the ’60s and ultimately for all times.
Here are the songs I picked:
‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ — This song shook pop music to its core. It had an electricity unlike any song before it and its impact was immeasurable.
Carl Wilson said he was so taken with it he ‘stayed up all night listening to it because the DJs played it at least once per hour.’ Quincy Jones and Phil Spector were both in awe.
Here were musicians who wrote their own songs, played the instruments and sang great harmonies.
Jerry Lee Lewis said when he heard the song, ‘I knew they were great talents, that their voices blended together so well, I hated them for it.’ Now that’s influence.
‘A Hard Day’s Night’ — I picked the title track from this album/movie because the title itself is one of (John )Lennon’s great play on words.
This movie is considered by most musicologist’s as the first long form music video. The songs on the soundtrack had a profound impact on music lovers. It was no longer enough to just sing and play great music, you now had to look at it as well.
It showed the craziness that the Beatles endured during those early days. This was way ahead of its time.
‘Yesterday’ — I know that many Beatles fans see this as a sappy love song, but examine it closer and there are some complex things to it.
This was one of the first songs they recorded that used a string quartet. Arranged by George Martin and supervised by Paul (McCartney), it was simple, but brilliant. It was also one of the first songs that was entirely written and performed by just one of the Beatles, that being Paul McCartney.
The ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ says this song has been covered by more than 3,000 artists.
That is incredible and how can anyone say it had no impact on popular music?
‘A Day In The Life’ — I picked this track from ‘Sgt. Peppers’ because it surely had a profound impact on Beatles fans. I think I also picked it because of the impact of the album.
‘Sgt. Peppers’ was one of the first concept albums ever made, even though it was a loose concept.
It also was one of the first albums to print the lyrics for the songs on the album.
The Beatles, inspired by the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’ album musically and influenced by Bob
Dylan lyrically, and using all of the studio recording techniques that were available at the time, created one of the all-time great masterpieces.
Interestingly, no singles were released from this album by Capitol. The Beatles did not want to take any song out of context or put one song ahead of another. This just happens to be my favorite track from the album.
‘Hey Jude’ — This song was influential because it showed record executives that length didn’t matter.
Up until this time, recordings were only released as singles like Billy Joel said on ‘The Entertainer,’
‘If you want to have a hit, you got to make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05.’
Record executives were reluctant to release songs longer than four minutes, because the public would lose interest. This song is over seven minutes long. It was the first release by the
Beatles new company, Apple, and ironically became the biggest hit single of the Beatles career.
Well there you go. The five songs that I believe had a profound impact on the music industry and the history of rock ’n’ roll.
In my classes, I spend more time talking about these songs and trying to get each group of students
I have to see how the Beatles shaped the things they listen to.
Amazingly, some of them really learn to appreciate music from the ’60s and quite a few of them really learn to love the music of the early pioneers.
I hope you had fun reading this. Keep up the good work, no one writes a better column than you.”
East Middle School
I respect Brett’s opinion greatly and here he makes his case for the Beatles stronger and more eloquently than I did.
Thank you, Brett.