The Beatles are widely considered to be one of the greatest bands to have ever lived. They experimented with numerous styles over the years, performing rock and pop songs that often included elements of blues, classical music, and even Indian music. Much of this experimentation came later in their careers, after they had established themselves as pop sensations in the early 1960s through what came to be known as Beatlemania.
Due to their phenomenal success, many do not realize how hard the Beatles had to work to achieve such a widespread reputation. When they began playing in 1960, not many other famous musicians had come out of Liverpool. In fact, they began recording with the record label Parlophone, which was not primarily associated with pop music but rather with comedy.
However, once they released the 1962 hit “Love Me Do,” they became known as “the Fab Four” and soon opened the doors to the British Invasion, a widespread love of British rock music that took hold of the United States during the mid-1960s. Other early rock and pop hits included “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “All My Loving,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “She Loves You,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Help” and “Ticket to Ride.”
Ringo Starr and George Harrison are sometimes overlooked. While Starr was as fine and unique a drummer as any other at the time, and George Harrison was a great writer of songs such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” many attribute the success of the Beatles to the writing and singing skills of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. They were highly influenced by artists who came before them such as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers, and they were able to absorb these influences and create songs of their own that established the Beatles as a powerhouse of success.
Lennon and McCartney wrote a number of unique songs from “Things We Said Today,” “Ask Me Why” and “All You Need Is Love,” to “I Am the Walrus,” “A Day in the Life,” “Yesterday” and “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” a song about an affair that features one of the band’s first uses of sitar. They wrote other classics as well, such as “Penny Lane,” “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Many of these songs were more experimental than some are prone to realize. For instance, “Strawberry Fields Forever” intentionally mixed the backing instrumentation higher than the vocals, creating a unique aural feel.
Each of their albums from 1965 onward contains a number of notable songs. Revolver contains songs such as “Yellow Submarine,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and “For No One.” Before Revovler, they released Rubber Soul with songs such as “Drive My Car,” “Girl,” and Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone.” Albums such as the White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were experiences in and of themselves.
Even the band’s music leading up to their breakup was notable. Tensions were beginning to perform during the recording of Abbey Road, and Lennon did not perform on the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” The band was close to dissolving at the time, but they still released notable songs such as “Octopus’s Garden,” “Come Together,” and Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” Many consider their next album Let It Be, to be their breakup album, although much of it was actually recorded prior to Abbey Road. By the time Abbey Road was released, Lennon had already left the band. Let It Be took the band out with a bang, including songs such as “Get Back,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Across the Universe” and the title track, “Let It Be.”
The Beatles managed to strike gold with just about every song they created, and their range knew no bounds. The White Album alone contains serious hits such as “Blackbird,” “Dear Prudence,” and “Revolution 1,” as well as more unique songs such as “Piggies,” “Rocky Raccoon,” and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.” It also contains the highly innovative sound experiment, “Revolution 9.” Even some of their earlier albums can be picked apart, demonstrating the band’s ability to take a unique approach to every track. Their unique and varied approach to songwriting and musicianship has potentially inspired more modern artists than any other band in the world, and their work continues to inspire musicians on a daily basis.
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