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Criticism of the Beatles
2 October 2011
3.25pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Hard to imagine, but back in the day the criticism of the Beatles was withering.

Who said this? "Drinking Dom Perignon '53 above 38 degrees is as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs."

 

semaJ dnoB in the movie regnifdloG

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
2 October 2011
4.09pm
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I always knew Bond was a twit...

"Now and then, though, someone does begin to grow differently. Instead of down, his feet grow up toward the sky. But we do our best to discourage awkward things like that." "What happens to them?" insisted Milo. "Oddly enough, they often grow ten times the size of everyone else," said Alec thoughtfully, "and I’ve heard that they walk among the stars." –The Phantom Tollbooth
2 October 2011
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Into the Sky with Diamonds
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But not Sean Connery. He did a great reading of "In My Life" on George Martin's compilation of Beatle songs done by others. (I forget the name).

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"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
2 October 2011
8.07pm
meanmistermustard
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Noel Coward is on record criticising The Beatles, however this may have something to do with Noel requesting to meet all 4 but only Paul went as John, George and Ringo couldnt be bothered. a-hard-days-night-paul-11

 

  A perfect example of Paul's acceptance of the ethical boundaries of show business came when the Beatles were appearing in Rome in 1965. Epstein told them all that Noel Coward, staying in the same hotel, would like to meet them. Paul recalls that the other three sounded bored by the prospect and suggested they all pretended they were not in. But Paul thought: 'We can't snub Noel Coward! He's two flights downstairs and he's asked to meet us! He's the grand old dame of British show business and we're the new young things.' So Paul went alone to meet him.

                                 (Taken from Ray Coleman. McCartney, Yesterday and Today:The Enigma of John Lennon)

 

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
3 October 2011
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vonbontee
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I was always amused by William F. Buckley's hyperbolic attack on Beatles music (just google it.) If he was truly that horrified, how would he have reacted to the Rolling Stones or the Animals?

I just want to play. I’d like to think I could work opposite Sinatra, B.B. King, the Beatles, or a polka band... - Jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967
8 September 2014
4.28am
parlance
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Article by a classic critic who eventually came around.

parlance

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Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

8 September 2014
8.59am
Funny Paper
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I remember my sister's ex-husband was a high-class South African of British culture who was born approximately 1925 (so he was already in his 40s by the time the Beatles got going) dismissing the Beatles because he thought they "stole" many of their ideas -- and he insisted that they stole the phrase "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Di" from some college chant in England.  I just found him an amusing boor...blue-meanie

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
8 September 2014
10.07am
trcanberra
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That 'Beatles Literary Anthology' book has some interesting articles on both sides of the fence.

26 September 2014
2.20am
georgiewood
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Note by Ahhh Girl: I moved this post here. The question GW asked in his thread title was

What is your reaction/defense to the Scaruffi article dismissing the Beatles as purveyors of overindulgent nursery rhymes?

I searched the Forum as well as I could and did not see any mention of this article by Piero Scaruffi analyzing the popular appeal of the Beatles:  http://scaruffi.com/vol1/beatles.html.  The article was obviously intended to be provocative and bombastic, but many of Scaruffi's observations/conclusions go way beyond controversy, and into the realm of scurrilous.

Such as, "the Beatles served as middle-class tranquilizers, as if to prove the new generation was not made up exclusively of rebels, misfits and sexual maniacs...For most of their career the Beatles were four mediocre musicians who sang melodic three-minute tunes at a time when rock music was trying to push itself beyond that format...Mediocre musicians and even more mediocre intellectuals, bands like the Beatles had the intuition of the circus performer who knows how to amuse the peasants after a hard day's work, an intuition applied to the era of mass distribution of consumer goods...Every one of their songs and every one of their albums followed much more striking songs and albums by others, but instead of simply imitating those songs, the Beatles adapted them to a bourgeois, conformist and orthodox dimension...George Harrison was a pathetic guitarist...Paul McCartney was a singer from the 1950s, who could not have possibly sounded more conventional. As a bassist, he was not worth the last of the rhythm and blues bassists...Ringo Starr played drums the way any kid of that time played it in his garage (even though he may ultimately be the only one of the four who had a bit of technical competence)...Overall, the technique of the "fab four" was the same of many other easy-listening groups: sub-standard...Beatles fans believed that the Beatles were first in everything, while in reality they were last in almost everything. The case of the Beatles is a textbook example of how myths can distort history."

Whew!  The only people who emerge from Scaruffi's microscope unscathed are George Martin and Yoko, both of whom he seems to hold in high regard.

Does he have valid points?

I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'. Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake, 1997
26 September 2014
2.37am
Ahhh Girl
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I'm So Tired. My only reaction right now to the critic is a-hard-days-night-paul-11blue-meanie

Now we will let someone give an intelligent answer.

26 September 2014
5.00am
Bongo
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My criticism of the Beatles is that they were so damn good! brian-epstein

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26 September 2014
8.34am
Oudis
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Give me time to come up with something coherent and I’ll reply. Maybe not for a few days or even weeks, since I’m really busy now, but I’ll reply.

26 September 2014
8.45am
meanmistermustard
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That article posted by georgiewood is obviously written to garner feedback, be it good or bad. When its as blatantly obvious as this is the best thing to do is let it pass by without comment or drawing attention to it. Like when a kid throws a tantrum for a sweetie - ignore it and pretty soon they shut up and feel stupid. Providing your attention only results in the repeating of their actions.

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26 September 2014
1.23pm
Zig
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Piero Scaruffi seems like an intelligent man. It's too bad he doesn't see the forest for the trees. There is some truth in what he says about them individually - I emphasize some - but when you put all four Beatles together, they are formidable. He also mixes in some horribly inaccurate assessments of their songs and albums. Further, his overall theme seems to deride the Beatles because they were not all impresarios educated in the finest schools of music. What a snob. Let me be the one to break it to him - music is for the soul, not the classroom. The Beatles touch so many people of so many age groups in so many ways and will continue to do so for so many years. Meanwhile, Scaruffi will be long forgotten as soon as I leave this page.  

I echo the feelings of my esteemed, well educated colleague @Ahhh Girl when I say a-hard-days-night-paul-11blue-meanie.

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To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

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26 September 2014
3.14pm
georgiewood
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Zig said

Piero Scaruffi seems like an intelligent man. It's too bad he doesn't see the forest for the trees. There is some truth in what he says about them individually - I emphasize some - but when you put all four Beatles together, they are formidable. He also mixes in some horribly inaccurate assessments of their songs and albums. Further, his overall theme seems to deride the Beatles because they were not all impresarios educated in the finest schools of music. What a snob. Let me be the one to break it to him - music is for the soul, not the classroom. The Beatles touch so many people of so many age groups in so many ways and will continue to do so for so many years. Meanwhile, Scaruffi will be long forgotten as soon as I leave this page.  

I echo the feelings of my esteemed, well educated colleague @Ahhh Girl when I say a-hard-days-night-paul-11blue-meanie.

That's really good, Zig.  What I think is funny is how personal this kind of criticism can get.  I'm reading along in the article and thinking there are some germs of fact there (although overblown for the sake of creating controversy), and then I get to a reference to I Feel Fine, which I have always considered to be beautiful, innovative and perfectly performed, and I think HEY, you have gone too far!  You cannot seriously criticize that brilliant work of art!

a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'. Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake, 1997
26 September 2014
3.25pm
Mr. Kite
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I just think anyone who has the nerve to criticize a musician better be a freakin' virtuoso or shut up.

He calls George a pathetic guitarist, I'd like to see him play one lead lick of George's.

It's a waste of breath to even reply, but it doesn't make sense to be so critical for no reason.

If I spoke prose you'd all find out, I don't know what I talk about.

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26 September 2014
4.31pm
meanmistermustard
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Surely going by that logic none of us here can criticise any musician who is of a better standard than us.

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Annadog40
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26 September 2014
6.06pm
Von Bontee
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Scaruffi knows a hell of a lot about a hell of a lot of music - I've visited his site on several occasions. But he obviously just has a major axe to grind against the Beatles. He doesn't think much of them himself...and yet they've somehow been the single most popular and acclaimed and iconic band for DECADES now! He can either shrug and say "I don't get it" or he can attack them way beyond what is reasonable, with hyperbole and irrelevent sociology and some outright nonsense. He's screaming in a void, and much of what he has to say about the Beatles is worth ignoring. Zig's "forest for the trees" assessment is right on. Haters gonna hate, etc.

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
26 September 2014
6.08pm
WETSRoosa
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I shouldn't really do this, lest this guy get any more attention, but screw it: I find a LOT of "well, they didn't do this and they didn't do that..." in his criticisms that can easily be debunked... I just chose the last two paragraphs and I'll just respond from there... his words in italics...

They were influential, yes, but on the customs - in the strictest sense of the word. Their influence, for better or for worse, on the great phenomena of the 60s doesn't amount to much. Unlike Bob Dylan, they didn't stir social revolts

If you're inspiring kids to grow out their hair and learn to play guitars and form their own bands, I can safely call that a social revolt, because the Beatles caused the wave of the youth overtaking rock and roll and pop culture from their elders and never looking back. The "We're bigger than Jesus" flap was a social revolt, too. Albeit, the wrong kind, but still... 

unlike the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead they didn't foster the hippie movement;

That's cause the Beatles weren't really hippies. (Well, John maybe.) And I could argue the Airplane really didn't foster that movement, either. The Dead, yes, but no one rock group could be credited with fostering the hippie movement, which is sort of what he's insinuating. It takes a village, so you have the Dead, the Charlatans (in antique clothing, no less!), Donovan, Country Joe and the Fish... and really, Timmy Leary or Ken Kesey (and in a roundabout way, Jack Kerouac) had more to do with fostering the hippie movement than any band ever could.

unlike Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix they didn't further the myth of LSD

If anyone furthered the myth of LSD, it would be Leary again. And if "Lucy in the Sky" didn't further the myth of LSD, not to say anything of "Tomorrow Never Knows," I don't know what else to tell you...

unlike Jagger and Zappa they had no impact on the sexual revolution.

From Zappa himself: "The sexual revolution failed and now we enter the age of AIDS..."

In their songs there is no Vietnam, there is no politics, there are no kids rioting in the streets, there is no sexual promiscuity, there are no drugs, there is no violence.

Other than the rioting in the streets, one can easily find examples of others in the Beatles' songs...

In the world of the Beatles the social order of the 40s and the 50s still reigns. At best they were influential on the secret dreams of young girls, and on the haircuts of young nerdy boys

Every band from 1965 to now would like a word with you in terms of how "influential" the Beatles are.

They had nothing to say and that's why they didn't say it.

Should have taken that last line to heart.  

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"There's no such thing as bad student... only bad teacher."
26 September 2014
11.09pm
Oudis
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WETSRoosa said
I shouldn't really do this, lest this guy get any more attention... I just chose the last two paragraphs and I'll just respond from there... his words in italics...

...unlike Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix they didn't further the myth of LSD...

And by the way, as far as I know Jim Morrison was more into alcohol and peyote than LSD (correct me if I’m wrong).

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