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What do The Beatles mean? Image Vs. Reality
12 September 2016
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Expert Textpert
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So, after a few years of being a hardcore Beatles fan, I find myself knowing less about what The Beatles stand for. It seems that there is an image of peace and love, of political Revolution , and counter-culture psychedelia about The Beatles. But the more I learn about the band, it seems they were really just a money-making machine, whose members were sometimes violent and cynical.

Also, I wonder how much of the image they actually created, and how much was accidental? For instance, the most iconic of all peace and love Beatles images, the Yellow Submarine movie, was actually completely created by individuals who had nothing to do with The Beatles.

Do you find that your image of The Beatles was shattered once you learned more about the mere mortals who were its members? Did this make you love The Beatles less, or more?

Also, does debating and arguing with other fans here on the forum whose opinions differ from your own take away from your fan experience? I often find myself saying "to hell with it all" when I find other fans bashing Yoko.

I am in the same state of disillusionment at the moment with learning too much about Elvis Presley, as well.

Lastly, do you feel when John wrote that "the dream is over," it was his intention to kill the image of The Beatles? If you buy into an image of The Beatles, do you feel you are at odds with John for doing so?

Your thoughts?

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12 September 2016
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Expert Textpert said

Do you find that your image of The Beatles was shattered once you learned more about the mere mortals who were its members? Did this make you love The Beatles less, or more?

Also, does debating and arguing with other fans here on the forum whose opinions differ from your own take away from your fan experience? I often find myself saying "to hell with it all" when I find other fans bashing Yoko.

Lastly, do you feel when John wrote that "the dream is over," it was his intention to kill the image of The Beatles? If you buy into an image of The Beatles, do you feel you are at odds with John for doing so?

Your thoughts?  

1. No, because I never had that much of an image to begin with. They were always flawed humans in my eyes. They're all celebrities with public images that are largely nonsense. 

2. Debating with fans... well, I don't do that much. If someone disagrees with me, I usually chalk it down to a difference of opinion and don't argue. I'm unemployed and I still think it's a waste of my time. 

3. I do think that it was partially to kill the image of the Beatles but I also think that the song is more so about criticizing worship in general. 

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12 September 2016
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First of all, I think John was at odds with pretty much everything and everyone, most notably himself. He couldn't seem to agree on anything, and constantly contradicted himself. Whilst that's confusing for us fans, it must have been infinitely more difficult for him and the people closest to him.

I have always seen the Beatles as (flawed) human beings. Whilst their good qualities, to me, outweigh their bad ones, I am fully aware of their less charming traits and actions. I think people who place the lads on a pedestal and consider them perfect, are doing themselves a disservice and yes, that can lead to disappointment. 

All in all, I do think that for all their mistakes, hypocrisy, and selfishness, the main thing they wanted to sell us was the message that in the end, love is what really matters. Sure, they wanted the fame, and the money, and the women. That's all true. They started it for their own enjoyment, so they wouldn't have to get real jobs. And when it stopped being fun, they quit. But through all of that, I do think they wanted to use their fame to spread a positive message. And even if they didn't plan to, they ended up doing it anyway.

So no, there's no disillusion here. They were four kids who were in it for themselves first and foremost, and who ended up spreading a message of peace and love, whether they meant to or not. I think that's quite brilliant. How many people can say that?

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12 September 2016
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I will comment properly on this later, I am currently forming thoughts.

However, I wanted to say early on that I don't like the word "image". I much prefer "myth".

"The Myth vs. The Reality" sounds much better to me.

a-hard-days-night-george-10

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12 September 2016
1.56pm
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I do think the image or 'myth' is represented in the Yellow Submarine movie. The reality is obviously very different.

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

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12 September 2016
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The image is the front cover, the reality is what's inside.

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12 September 2016
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This is one that needs a think on my part. Good questions, ET!

At this moment, I agree with RN that "Myth v. Reality" sounds better. I'll return in a bit.

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12 September 2016
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Expert Textpert said
 But the more I learn about the band, it seems they were really just a money-making machine

That they were, and now Apple has stretched my pockets even more in my later years.  

http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/kk38/rickdelsie/The%20Beatles/parlunread_zps28270d9d.gif BEATLES Music gives me Eargasms!  apple01

12 September 2016
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Something I always found great about The Beatles was their genuineness. Even when they had the world at their feet and were being anointed as gods by everyone they were having none of it. They just wanted to be seen as the four normal level headed guys. So I don't think they were behind pushing any particular fake perception of themselves. That was for other people to do. I do think they were sincere about the peace and love message - at least in 1967 and well before Yellow Submarine ...and Ringo is still into it today 🙂  . They were also serious about exploring psychedelia and the effect on consciousness (at least mainly George and John were) but I think it was more for personal reasons than for promoting it although perhaps they did to some extent. I don't think the political Revolution message was that strong was it?

Pivotal Moments in Beatles History No.118:  Yoko helps herself to one of George's digestives. 

12 September 2016
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Amazing post @Expert Textpert. Finally somebody says it. I hope I can make myself understood…

I don’t know if they were a money-making machine, but they certainly were part of an industry that was, and is. Granted: they became famous because the Lennon-McCartney team was an amazing creative partnership. But yes, let’s face it: they were always trying to compose hits, especially at the beginning of their career. Money makers, perhaps. Or just huge egos.

And they also achieved a huge success because they created an image (sorry @Ron Nasty, the image came first, the myth came later), and in that respect they were no different from Justin Biever or Britney Spears. Actually they followed Elvis’ path; and they would become the template for countless boy bands (yes: they were the ultimate boy band).

When I was fifteen and heard their music for the first time I looked at their pictures and read the Hunter Davis book and their image had meaning for me: love, peace, a rebellious attitude. But I was fifteen. Then as I grew up I slowly started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. They were a merchandise product. They sang about love but when touring they were into hookers. They were drug users, or abusers, or in the case of John, I think we can safely simply call him a junkie. John, the Messiah, John, the wife-beater. And Sir Paul, The Voice of Conformity. Or George, who was so lost and overwhelmed that he had to look for some Eastern mumbo-jumbo to find some peace of mind. And what can we say about Ringo… He was funny, but was just a guy who was in the right place at the right time. He’s nothing.

Personally at this stage of my life I couldn’t care less about their haircuts or their clothes, or their pose of clean-cut well-intended rebels (which was 50% of what made them famous). I don’t look at photos of The Beatles, I don’t watch their movies. I don’t think there is a “message” from them to be received by us. I abhor all that. I just listen to their legacy: their songs.  I listen to The Beatles the way I listen to Gershwin or Bach: it’s great music. In fifty years nobody will even think about what they may have “meant” –but people will still listen to their music.

You see, a strange phenomenon takes place with artists in general. When their art is good, it goes above and beyond who they were as people. That’s the way it’s meant to be. We forget that Caravaggio was a murderer. We forget that Van Gogh was a loony. We forget that Wagner was a White supremacist. We forget that Gauguin ditched his wife and children. We focus on their art –that’s the important thing.

As Mark Knopfler sang in the ’80s, “And after all the violence and double talk / There's just a song in all the trouble and the strife”…

Forget about the way they looked or what they said; that’s history. Just listen to the songs.

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12 September 2016
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Their faults in history are apparent, yes, but the wrong-doings can't undermine the importance of their music. No matter how much they were merchandised, how many orgies they had on tour, or how many times John shot up heroin, The Beatles had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the world. That is the 'reality.' Generation after generation have enjoyed their music, and have been inspired to do the right thing.

While I have no facts to support this, but I am willing to bet that Beatles music has saved lives countless times.

Are they four jolly British pals with funny accents who play songs together in order to bring love back to a world full of blue and grey? Perhaps the cartoon was more based in reality than we thought.

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12 September 2016
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sir walter raleigh said
Their faults in history are apparent, yes, but the wrong-doings can't undermine the importance of their music. No matter how much they were merchandised, how many orgies they had on tour, or how many times John shot up heroin, The Beatles had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the world. That is the 'reality.' Generation after generation have enjoyed their music, and have been inspired to do the right thing.

While I have no facts to support this, but I am willing to bet that Beatles music has saved lives countless times.

Are they four jolly British pals with funny accents who play songs together in order to bring love back to a world full of blue and grey? Perhaps the cartoon was more based in reality than we thought.  

I most definitely agree with you, @sir walter raleigh . As sad as it may seem, without them, I might not have been here at this moment. They helped convince me to carry on, and that's more than I could ever ask for. So, even though they weren't as flawless as some people view them as, I still love them. I simply acknowledge that they weren't perfect and that not everything they did was necessarily correct, and I move on to their better qualities and try not to let the not-so-great ones get to my head too much. I hope I explained that well enough.

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12 September 2016
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And there are millions of other like you @WeepingAtlasCedars who's lives have been affected, big or small, by the band.

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13 September 2016
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sir walter raleigh said

While I have no facts to support this, but I am willing to bet that Beatles music has saved lives countless times.
 

You're right @owenladner. Mine, for instance.

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

13 September 2016
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sir walter raleigh said
Their faults in history are apparent, yes, but the wrong-doings can't undermine the importance of their music. No matter how much they were merchandised, how many orgies they had on tour, or how many times John shot up heroin, The Beatles had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the world. That is the 'reality.' Generation after generation have enjoyed their music, and have been inspired to do the right thing.

While I have no facts to support this, but I am willing to bet that Beatles music has saved lives countless times.

Are they four jolly British pals with funny accents who play songs together in order to bring love back to a world full of blue and grey? Perhaps the cartoon was more based in reality than we thought.  

I agree 100% Their music (and Paul's even before that) saved my life. I would absolutely not be here today if I had not found an anchor in music, and Paul/the Beatles played a major role in that!

I feel saddened by the cynical view as expressed by @Oudis. It's one thing to acknowledge the boys' less charming traits, allowing that to completely strip away any warm feeling the band may have given you at some point is something different altogether. 

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13 September 2016
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Why on earth should the four Beatles be held up to be anything more than what we are and be measured by standards that are wholly impossible to keep? If you buy into the marketing of any one or thing then expect to rapidly disappointed. 

Debating- if there is a point to the discussion and its going somewhere i'll continue but after 3 or 4 rounds i normally get bored. Everyone is entitled to express their point of view even if i think its total bullshit and should be shot down in flames. Doesn't mean i'm right. It's about knowing when to walk away mumbling to yourself.

John: It doesn't matter about people not liking our records, or not liking the way we look, or what we say. You know, they're entitled to not like us. And we're entitled not to have anything to do with them if we don't want to, or not to regard them. We've all got our rights, you know, Harold."

I won't shout or argue nowadays.

John didn't buy into the myth or image or the Beatles nor did anyone close to them. The way he was feeling when he wrote 'God ' he probably did want to kill off the image, he went further in many interviews.

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13 September 2016
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sir walter raleigh said
And there are millions of other like you @WeepingAtlasCedars who's lives have been affected, big or small, by the band.  

Now we are getting to the heart of the problem.   In my opinion, Elvis and The Beatles are in a category all their own, where because of their image they have the ability to affect lives. 

It's sort of a religious thing. People used to wheel cripples up to be touched by The Beatles. In the case of Elvis it's even more murky because not only did people believe the same, but Elvis himself believed he possessed special healing powers. And there is some evidence to suggest that he actually did, but that doesn't change the fact that he was a flawed human being.

My question is, are our lives changed simply because we believed? In something that wasn't necessarily there in the first place? To illustrate, let me use the example of Mother Teresa. Everyone knows her as someone who gave her life to help others. The Roman Catholics made her a saint recently. But to many Hindus she is a demon. And if you read about her life, you'll find that she did not actually provide proper medical care for those she was supposed to help. She just cared about converting people on their death beds and telling them they were closer to Jesus because of their suffering, as she did nothing to help them. Not only that, but she privately doubted the existence of God and did not feel his presence. And yet now, simply because she is a saint, many lives will be affected positively by devotion to her.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death.” —John Lennon 

13 September 2016
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In my case, it was simply the music and the joy it brought me that helped me through some very dark times. The first song to ever give me hope was We All Stand Together, and I was 5 years old at the time. I didn't even know any English other than 'I love you', but I knew what the song was about and it was exactly what I needed at that time. I wouldn't have recognised Paul if I tripped over him, so image had absolutely nothing to do with it.

When I first learned to love the Beatles' music, I knew about the hair and the suits but it didn't go any farther than that. I thought they all had black hair, I couldn't tell them apart, Paul's voice was the only one I could identify though John's soon followed, and I had never seen an interview. I knew a lot of their songs by heart, though, and it brought me a lot of happiness to hear their songs; more so than most other acts ever could.

When I really started to get into them, I initially didn't even know George had died as well. And I still couldn't tell their voices apart. Heck, I could barely tell Paul and George apart in photos! And yet, when I really started to get to know the Fabs, I found I knew 90% of their songs by heart. This was 2, maybe 3 years ago. Up until about a year, maybe 2 years ago, there were songs sung by George which I attributed to Paul or John.

You could say I've really submerged myself in the whole Beatles thing over the past few years, and I've soaked up every piece of information I could find. But even then, they were never godlike creatures to me. The Beatles aren't my religion because I have none. They did not cure me of anything; their songs made me happy and gave me hope. That's how they saved me, by making happy songs with a positive message. That's all. The fact that the people making those songs have their bad habits like anyone else never bothered me. I'm just grateful they chose to do what they did best; the effect they had on my mental welfare is just an added bonus.

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13 September 2016
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@Mademoiselle Kitty >^..^<, you make a valid point in differentiating the image from the music. However, I don't think anyone could be affected by the image of The Beatles without first enjoying the music.  For exmaple, the image of Justin Bieber holds no power for me.

I think that enjoying the music, and turning to the music as a source of comfort in dark times, is essentially no different than praying to a saint or other religious figure in times of need.  We may not conceive of it in such a way, especially if we are not religious. But the function is the same.

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13 September 2016
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Expert Textpert said
Now we are getting to the heart of the problem.   In my opinion, Elvis and The Beatles are in a category all their own, where because of their image they have the ability to affect lives. 

It's sort of a religious thing. People used to wheel cripples up to be touched by The Beatles. In the case of Elvis it's even more murky because not only did people believe the same, but Elvis himself believed he possessed special healing powers. And there is some evidence to suggest that he actually did, but that doesn't change the fact that he was a flawed human being.

My question is, are our lives changed simply because we believed? In something that wasn't necessarily there in the first place?

Yes, because we changed our lives in response to what we saw, heard, felt, believed. For some, that belief continues, for others they realize it was a myth. Teresa is a great example of that but there are many others. Churchill had a taste of it during the second world war. It doesn't have to be an attractive myth either, think of history's villains, they suffer from the 'mythic effect' as much as the heroes. We tell ourselves stories, and you might say we are the stories we tell ourselves. Think of your own memory of your life and who you think you are, that isn't just an effect of your experiences and environment, its also your chosen reaction to them.

The Beatles changed my life because I was as attracted to the myth as the music in the beginning as anyone. The myth has faded, the music has not (and the music itself has its own myth which is far more difficult to untangle because it repeats every time I hear it). Can you totally avoid myth? I don't know, I'm not anyone else and I find it easier to not worry about such things.

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