The current study briefs about the musical and cultural impact of the Beatles in a musical revolution in the USA. The study encompasses the changing attitude of people in the USA towards the rock music after introducing several innovative genres. The songwriting partnership of its members has also been mentioned in this study to track the journey of Beatles towards the influential success in the USA. The key objective of this study is to track the revolutionary change in cultures due to the change in the musical base at the concerned period.
The Beatles were the English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members of this band, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr pursued a revolutionary change in the musical base through influential acts of the rock era. However, Becker (2007) found that different other genres were also introduced in the songs at a later period where psychedelic and hard rock was the most popular genres that have later created the Beatlemania. In the late 1960s, the songwriting of the Beatles became sophisticated and perceived by the listeners as an embodiment of the ideals regarding the sociocultural revolutions in the country.
American pop and British Invasion (1960s)
In the era of the controversial and violent American history in the decade of the 1960s, the civil rights movements, the Vietnam War and the assassination of presidents has become one of the impassioned debates among the historians as well as the civilians. In this context, Brog (2005) acknowledged that popular music played a pivotal role in defining the character and spirits of the political and cultural states during the 1960s. The reason is that the baby booms have a major influence in essential political and cultural events in this period. The baby boomers have been identified by Chan et al. (2008) to be the generation having a remarkable degree with own music and culture, “Rock and Roll” that in turn was changed becoming “rock”. Such transformation brought the music as the expression of hopes and fears of the generation against the American political and racial climate in the country.
The time of the early 1960s is often described as the lacklustre period while the popular American music is on the way of development. Before the Beatles came with the rock n’ roll music in 1964, there was a trend of social dancing, developed in the 1950s where Davidson and Good (2002) observed that such social dance form is highly inspired by “the twist”. However, the rock n roll music introduced new and distinctive movements and other social customs to accompany it.
By the time the Beatles had the first number in America “I want to hold your hand” that was recognised as the topper in music charts at the beginning of the February 1964. After this success, the band was recognised as stars in the Great Britain and become popular widely in the European region. However, Clawson (2009) observed that from late 1963 onwards the group had come to be known as Beatlemania. According to the historians, the impact of the assassination of the President John F. Kennedy, the people was eager to change the prevailing national mood of solemnity. In this context, the Beatles had offered the scope of incorporating changes in culture and attitudes in the form of a novel, “exotic”, uplifting and fun. The promotion has been processed through the name of the first album, “Meet the Beatles” whereas deluge of the mass enthusiasm for the entertainers was indifferent in the America in 1964. However, Cook (2003) argued that the unique and chief element in Beatles and its phenomena in the entertainment business is the unpredictability.
The songwriting partnership of Lennon and McCartney
John and Paul met in 1956, when John was running the unknown Liverpool Skiffle band, the Quarrymen. Paul was impressed by the performance of the band and introduced to John where Paul impressed John by playing “Twenty Flight Rock” on John’s right handed guitar. Then both of them started writing songs for the band, although both of them had been trying to write for five years. It has been evidenced that John sometimes used to skipping school and go to Paul’s house, in order to write down the lyrics and tunes corresponding to the songs were developed on piano. Some of the songs that emerged from the period are “When I’m 64”, “I saw her standing there”. However, Goldstein (2008) viewed that most of the songs written by both of them were unused. Therefore, during this session, John and Paul entered into an agreement that the songs were written would be credited to both that allows enjoying equal royalties.
The agreement contains that rule that name of the writer comes first whenever one of the both write major portions of a song. However, the rule was broken when the song, “love me do”, written by Paul was recognised to Lennon-McCartney whereas “please, please me” was credited to McCartney- Lennon. In order to make the name more convenient for the listeners, the agreement was settled on having Lennon-McCartney on all the songs as the letter L comes before M. However, in the late 1990s, Paul requested that the specific songs would be changed to McCartney- Lennon, specifically for the song, “yesterday” where John has no such input into it. However, the proposal was rejected by owner of John’s estate. In 1964, the sixth single album by the Beatles “Can’t buy me love” was released. This is the first time when the song was written by one of the partners. Such incident influence developing a friendly rivalry between two writers and thus such competitiveness affected the lead guitarist of the band, George Harrison where the person began writing lyrics. However, Groce and Margaret (2010) has mentioned that George was at times an exceptional songwriter. Therefore, the competition between John and Paul led to the creative expression of the songs written by both of them and started writing more songs that the Beatles have ever written.
The Psychedelic Beatles
The psychedelic rocks are the songs inspired by the psychedelic culture that replicates the experience of psychedelic drugs. In this context, Hirt-Mannheimer (2005) stated that such rock songs used new recording mechanism where the expression and mood of the songs were sourced from non-western cultures like ragas and other genres of Indian classical music. Supporting this statement, Landauer and Dumais (2007) stated that it is a quite debatable to determine the true inventor of this musical form, whereas Beatles is the one who architects this musical form into the rock music. The psychedelic tracks like “tomorrow never knows” and “A day in the life” develops the idea of the mind expansion from the fringe concern to the centre of interest. In this context, Pennebaker et al. (2003) found that psychedelic style had been more vividly transmitted where such style specified the clothes, hairstyles, promotional materials and visual aids. It has been obtained that the Beatles is the first rock band, allowing the influence of LSD while inventing the psychedelic style in music. Although the band has undertaken the visual psychedelia from the designers and other artists working to convey acid experience, the Beatles were the first in music to utilise an exclusive collection of the psychedelic recording studio like, Indian drones and scales, phrasing ideas and backward tapes where the features are also taken up by the others in the pop culture.
Therefore, during this year, the Beatles had initiated to change the political and cultural state of the world through its musical influence. The initiatives had been taken by being open to the existing elite thoughts where the ideas were implemented into its activities, in order to change the trends and concepts. In that case, the first step of the band was initiated into marijuana by Bob Dylan in New York in August 1964. However, Rehberg and Walter (2006) cited that the Beatles did not allow the mind-expanding drugs affecting work until the members had encountered LSD in spring 1965.
The impact of Beatles on music and culture
The musical journey of Beatles faced various political and cultural states in the USA where its music had changed the musical base as well as the cultural platform in the USA. The impact of the Beatles on the culture and musical taste of civilians could be demonstrated as follows:
The rock music, introduced by Beatles impacted on the culture of the USA in terms of the style. As mentioned above that the musical genres of the Beatles have influenced the members of the band to develop a particular style with help of clothing and hairstyles. Therefore, the teenagers of the USA were highly influenced by the styles.
The musical innovation of Beatles rose up with energy and innovation where such new musical form has changed the cultural value of the people in the USA through make aware people regarding political and cultural aspects regardless whether the features have a positive or negative impact. Therefore, going through the innovative musical journey, Beatles-inspired the other musicians and bands to push own musical boundaries that innovative musical forms could be developed for a new revolution (Spreitzer and Meredith,2007).
American musical taste
A major influence of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and sitar music of Pandit Ravi Shankar has been found in the music of the Beatles. It influenced the attitude of the USA civilians towards the Indian spirituality and classical genre of music.
Referring to the above discussion regarding the musical revolution, introduced by the Beatles, it has been obtained that the Beatles is the first band introduced the rock music in the USA where songs are designed with the lyrics to interpret the political and socio-cultural state of the country. In this context, different other genres have also introduced by the band where psychedelic musical form became more popular than the others as it created a new culture among the younger generation in the form of outfit, attitudes and socio-cultural status.
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