As someone who loves everything Beatles, even I have to agree with many of the points Donald Maclean made about the band in his March 15 Free for All letter [“Love them don’t: The Beatles are so yesterday”]. I agree that Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Hendrix probably were better guitarists than John, Paul and George. And Ringo’s drumming skills weren’t on a par with the likes of Keith Moon of the Who, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Ginger Baker of Cream. None of that matters. To me, it was about the music that “the boys” generated. And in that regard, I believe the Beatles are the gold standard.
Yes, there were quite a few songs the Beatles wrote that were really not that good. And while I do like “She Loves You,” I can understand why Maclean thought “this is just dumb” when he first heard it.
But the Beatles weren’t just about “She Loves You,” “Please Please Me” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They evolved to “Nowhere Man,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Hey Jude” and, finally, “The End.”
Life should be about living in the now and looking to the future. I don’t think it hurts sometimes to look back to yesterday to feel good about tomorrow. The Beatles, and the wonderful melodies they produced, do that for me.
Jeff Feuer, Silver Spring
Did Donald Maclean hear “She Loves You,” cover his ears with his hands and not uncover them since? Each of us experiences music (and all art) through his or her own lens; Maclean seems to have a very powerful Beatles-blocking filter attached. If he were to listen more openly to albums such as “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road,” he would hear songs abundantly full of the same qualities he attributes to the other artists he mentioned.
Laurence Ward, Reston
Donald Maclean failed to mention the transformation and experimenting that characterized the Beatles’ later work. He mentioned musical arrangement lacking complexity. What about the aural buildup of “A Day in the Life” or “Come Together”? Poetic lyrics? Try “Fool on the Hill,” “Across the Universe” or “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” And what about the stylistic experiments of “Eleanor Rigby” or “Within You Without You”? Maclean unfavorably compared the Beatles with Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young and Janice Joplin, yet, taste aside, these artists would not have achieved all they did if the Beatles had not expanded our idea of what pop music could be.
William Craig, Washington
Finally, someone else who belongs to that “smallest club in America” — people who do not appreciate the Beatles’ music. While I do have an appreciation for their historic role in music trends, truly, their voices were not great. I guess you have to understand the underlying meanings of “Yellow Submarine,” “Michelle,” “Yesterday” and of course “Hey Jude” to be able to tolerate listening to them. My first record was “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and, as far as I’m concerned, it remained their best work.
Christine Matthews, Washington