The early music of the Beatles, I associate with my early childhood. I sang along to bubbly songs like “Love Me Do” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Most early Beatles pop songs are structured, upbeat, and singable. It’s hard not to like these songs; they get stuck in your head after hearing them only once. I’m glad these songs were some of the first songs I ever heard. They teach you how music works-- how a song is structured, what makes certain melodies catchy, etc. If you’d like to listen to songs like these, check out “Meet the Beatles,” one of the first Beatles albums to be released in the US.
As I got older, I graduated to more complicated Beatles songs. A great example of this is the album “Revolver.” I went through a brief phrase in which I constantly sang the first song on the album, “Taxman.” There are certain characteristics of this song that are appealing for the same reasons earlier songs like “Love Me Do” are, but it’s definitely more sophisticated. The lyric itself is more mature, and pretty sarcastic. However, it retains the same bubbly repetition as their earlier work. Other songs on the album, like “Got To Get You Into My Life” (a song which I recently came back to, and still love) are examples of the Beatles’ honing in on their style. “Got To Get You Into My Life” is undoubtedly less simple than “Love Me Do,” from the addition of horns (which really adds a deeper and more lush sound to the track) and a melody that feels more open and less predictable. It’s still a happy song, and I associate this kind of song with my grade-school years-- it’s less like the early songs I used to dance in my living room to, and more the style of song that I’d struggle to learn on my acoustic guitar in middle school. This continued with my love of “Rubber Soul.” For awhile, I almost exclusively listened to this album, which probably would’ve driven my parents crazy if it wasn’t such a great album.
The next phase of my Beatles fascination, and the age I associate it with, centers around my favorite Beatles album-- “The White Album.” I’ve been in love with this album for all of my high school years. My favorite song on this album changes, as I obsess over one after another. To be honest, it’s probably best experienced as a whole album, but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to certain songs on repeat for days on end. These songs don’t even really sound like the “I Want To Hold Your Hand” Beatles. At this point, they’re a straight rock band, not the same pop group they were. I’ve heard this album described as the Beatles beginning to “tear at the seams,” and this is completely accurate, but this tearing resulted in something truly great. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Cry Baby Cry.” Part of the appeal of this song is how it’s been overlooked. It’s a quiet, it’s meant to be discovered, not to be a hit. The lyrics sound like a riddle; the outro is an excerpt from a totally different song; the structure isn’t as methodical. These songs are meant to be concentrated on, more art-y than any of the prior releases from the Fab Four. I started to really appreciate this style as I got more serious about music.