Monday, March 24, 2014

Beyond The Beatles

Playing Beatles songs is, of course, our original purpose and continual joy.

But as we reflect upon what makes Beatles music so appealing to us, we realize that there's a bigger picture - the cultural turbulence of the sixties affected us all on so many levels. And although The Beatles were the most prolific and influential of the musical artists from that era, they were certainly not the only ones to make a lasting impression.

We recently played a benefit in Columbia, called Coca Bella, which had a retro theme. Many folks showed up dressed in psychedelic clothing, and the room was decorated with furniture from the 50's and 60's, including old issues of LIFE magazine on the coffee tables. 

This was the perfect chance to play other songs from the sixties. 

Here are some of the hits we added to our list: "Satisfaction," "You Really Got Me," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Mr. Tamborine Man," "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Good Lovin'," and "Daydream Believer."

What's interesting is that most of the artists represented in this list had direct musical and social connections to The Beatles. 
                                Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison, whose "Oh, Pretty Woman" hit the top of the American charts in October '64, had toured with the Beatles in England, and was among the major influences on their songwriting. 

"Please Please Me" has been identified as a song John Lennon originally wrote in the style of a Roy Orbison ballad. And anyone who has played "She Loves You" can see a chord progression that the Beatles copied from Roy Orbison.

The Rolling Stones were signed to Decca because of a personal recommendation by George Harrison. Mick and Keith, originally blues purists, started writing songs because John and Paul told them it could be done. "Satisfaction," which hit number one in '65, is a great example of what the Stones could do as songwriters.

The Rascals, whose "Good Lovin'" hit number one in '66, had their start as members of Joey Dee and The Starliters, who worked with The Beatles in Europe.

                            Rickenbacker 12 string

"Mr. Tamborine Man," which hit number one in '65, is known for its use of the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar, which Roger McGuinn started playing because he was inspired by George Harrison's first use of it in "Hard Day's Night."

And  "Daydream Believer," which hit number one in '67, is from the Monkees, who were known as the "PreFab Four," a group deliberately patterned on The Beatles.

Interestingly, Davy Jones, their lead singer, had performed on The Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964, the same episode that famously featured the first Beatles television appearance in the U.S. He played the part of Artful Dodger among the cast of Oliver!

              The Monkees: Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith,        
                      Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork

As we learn more about The Beatles, we discover how much American music they listened to before they came into their own as songwriters. And so, when we play songs beyond the Beatles, we end up exploring their own list of favorites, or later songs that reveal their influence. 

Bloggin' Bryan 24March2014

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