Study Guide

John Lennon

by Richard Wootton

John Lennon Essay - Critical Essays

Lennon, John

Introduction

John Lennon 1940– Paul McCartney 1942–

British songwriters, musicians, producers, arrangers, actors, and filmmakers. Lennon and McCartney were the chief writers for the Beatles, the rock quartet by whose success all other groups are now measured. Without formal musical training, they created music that had universal appeal, yet was sophisticated enough to be appreciated by musical scholars. They expanded the boundaries of popular music, gave it respectability, and helped to bring it, both artistically and commercially, to its present state. The Beatles played a major role in defining the cultural climate of the sixties. From their hair and clothing to their interests in drugs and meditation, young people emulated them and their lifestyles. The Beatles achieved an uncanny balance of personality and talent, with each member of the group (which also included George Harrison and Ringo Starr) strongly individual as well as complementary to the others. Their music reflected this diversity: Lennon wrote songs that were often rebellious, aggressive, and satirical; McCartney's were lyrical, sweeter, and more sentimental. As songwriters, the difference in their natures seemed to aid in the success of their collaborations as each complemented the other's writing style. Later Harrison also became a composer, and his works most often reflected his interest in Eastern music and mystical thought. The Beatles, along with Bob Dylan, are considered responsible for renewing an interest in the power of words to the listening audience of the sixties. From the beginning, their lyrics were fresh and devoid of cliché. As they matured, their songs increased in complexity, and they moved from boy/girl romantic themes to subjects infrequently used in popular songs. Lennon's "Norwegian Wood," for instance, dealt with a clandestine affair, and McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" painted a touching picture of the life and death of a lonely woman. Lennon also published two inventive books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, which have been recognized as serious contributions to the genre of comic literature in the vein of James Joyce and Edward Lear. The zenith for the band was Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, an ambitious album which was not only unified thematically, but which was also the last representation of the Beatles working together as a unit. It treats illusion, escape, and reality within its structure of an English music hall show, and includes the song "A Day in the Life," which many critics have called the finest synthesis of the talents of Lennon and McCartney. The release of Sgt Pepper in 1967 was a landmark in the history of popular music. Its success and influence solidified the Beatles's reputation as major musical innovators, and provided the first example of a popular work worthy of analysis as art, with criterion similar to that of more classical forms. On their successive albums, the Beatles began to work independently of each other, and created works that went into more unconventional musical directions but were less cohesive. The Lennon and McCartney song-writing partnership disbanded due to personal and musical differences, and some critics complained that without the balancing effect that the composers had on each other, their compositions were marred by the excesses of their individual writing styles. These complaints were intensified after the breakup of the group in 1970, when both Lennon and McCartney began releasing solo albums. Many critics felt that each artist operated from either side of an extreme: Lennon was accused of making musical editorials of his songs, while McCartney became considered an intellectual lightweight with songs that, although melodic, had no more meaning than nursery rhymes. Despite McCartney's recent commercial success and Lennon's deified position as a reclusive genius, the most consistent opinion has been that Lennon and McCartney are less successful individually than they were with the rest of the Beatles. However, as the creative forces behind the most potently influential musicians of the last twenty years, very few of us have been left untouched by the magic of their words and music.

Francis Newton

The Beatles are an agreeable bunch of kids, quite unsinister (unlike some of the American teenage comets), with that charming combination of flamboyance and a certain hip self-mickey-taking, which is the ideal of their age group. They are in fact the 'new Elizabethans' for whom the bishops called 10 years ago. Much of their appeal has nothing to do with music at all, but with clothes, haircuts and stance. What they sell is not music, but 'the sound', a slightly modified version of the heavily accented, electronically amplified noise which has long been familiar to rock-and-rollers and could at a pinch be described as the musique concrète of the masses. Anyone can produce that sound, and practically everyone with the money for the rather expensive gear has done so…. Mersey-side—and the Beatles—emerged as the recognised Nashville of Britain about a year ago, when entrepreneurs first became aware of the size of the market for the beat groups which had grown up spontaneously in provincial cellars and halls…. There is generally only one idol and it happens that this sympathetic group of lads has been cast for the part. They are probably just about to begin their slow descent: the moment when someone thinks of making a film with a pop idol normally marks the peak of his curve. In 20 years' time nothing of them will survive. (p. 673)

Francis Newton, "Beatles and Before," in New Statesman (© 1963 The Statesman...

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Jack Gould

The Beatles of Britain were seen in their first complete song on American television last night as Jack Paar presented a film of the mop-headed quartet on his variety show….

The young men from Liverpool, whose Merseyside version of rock 'n' roll has bestirred English teen-agers and sociologists to a communion of interest, aurally suggested a Presley multiplied by four. Visually, their calisthenics were wider and, upon somewhat fuller examination, might prove infinitely more amusing….

While trade papers of the United States entertainment world indicate that recordings made by the Beatles should find favor among indigenous teen-agers, it would not seem quite so likely that the accompanying fever known as Beatlemania will also be successfully exported. On this side of the Atlantic it is dated stuff.

Hysterical squeals emanating from developing femininity really went out coincidental with the payola scandal and Presley's military service….

On last night's very limited evidence it would appear that the main joy of Beatlemania for the English is its British manufacture; it is no time for neighbors of the Paramount Theatre to point out that hereabouts it happens once a generation—e.g., Frank Sinatra and Alan Freed.

From a nation where the best-selling record is now The Singing Nun's delicate and charming "Dominique" there can be extended to the British the...

(The entire section is 577 words.)

Tom Wolfe

Literary London, from parlor to arty mews, has been one great wide open door for noble primitives, even though London literati still live in the mental atmosphere of the 19th-century aristocracy, in the world of the universities, nutty sherry, curly Shelley hair, parlor floor libraries with trestle ladders, and mandarin wit. The enthusiasm for genius-savages has been in part a guilty sympathy for the proles and primitives and in part a romantic awe of raw vitality. Nevertheless, the case of John Lennon is exceptional. He is one of the few Englishmen whom English literati have hailed as a genius of the lower crust. He comes out of the very vortex of something intellectuals all over the West have begun to turn to as a new fashion in artistic taste: namely, mass culture, which has been the material, in painting, for the genre known as "pop art." The pop artists sit on the floor wearing levis and Zorrie sandals in the same old calcimined lofts painting pictures of comic strips, tail fins, motel archways, tuxedo ads, housing development floor plans. But Lennon steps right out of mass culture, the "Beatlemania," without benefit of a middle man, we are assured, and becomes the artist himself….

[The stories and poems in In His Own Write are] nonsense writing, but one has only to review the literature of nonsense to see how well Lennon has brought it off. While some of his homonyms are gratuitous word play, many others have not only...

(The entire section is 422 words.)

Peter Schickele

[In His Own Write] not only has a style of its own, but at its best it has a very sure and delightful style. Moreover, it is not about the author or the group which made him famous; it is a collection of brief whimsies and simple drawings—pure fancy and nonsense concocted by someone who loves jumbling words and images.

In reviews of the book, all sorts of literary wheels have been mentioned as influences—Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, James Thurber (I keep thinking of Kenneth Patchen, too—and it's easy to see why …)…. Even James Joyce has been mentioned, and certainly [some] passages … have a wild and heavy quality which goes beyond word play…. (p. 588)

But Lennon...

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Jonathan Cott

The question is: why do we need A Hard Day's Night so much that we keep showing it as often as we do? (p. 84)

Childhood is our goal. Concomitant with being a child exists the pleasure one gets from playing and the intolerable displeasure one gets from realizing one's dependency on others. Thus the Beatles play on the rugby field in that most pleasurable scene which you want to see again and again. Four boys mock space and time—the sequence lasts under three minutes—as they play to "Can't Buy Me Love." Every moment seems spontaneous and joyful. Actions and movements are speeded up and slowed down. What we see is how we once wanted to feel. "Genital organization is a tyranny in man because...

(The entire section is 1159 words.)

Richard Goldstein

If being a critic were the same as being a listener I could just enjoy "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Other than one cut which I detest ("Good Morning, Good Morning"), I find the album better than 80 per cent of the music around today; it is the other 20 per cent (including the best of the Beatles' past performances) which worries me as a critic….

When the Beatles' work as a whole is viewed in retrospect, it will be "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" which stand as their major contributions. When the slicks and tricks of production on this album no longer seem unusual, and the compositions are stripped to their musical and lyrical essentials, "Sergeant Pepper" will be Beatles baroque—an...

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Gene Lees

No album in recent years has been issued in the midst of so much 'fuss and foofaraw as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."…

The title tune, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, is the latter: redundant without making a point by the redundancy. Its lyric is vague and cluttered. The rock intellectuals will claim it is full of meaning, of course. If it becomes desperately important for you to find meaning in it, a little grass will help: pot makes everything seem significant.

The second song of the album, A Little Help from My Friends, features more of the meandering, unstructured, free-association do-it-yourself-Rorschachism that Lennon and McCartney too...

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Don Heckman

That "Sgt. Pepper" is different from [the Beatles'] previous albums should surprise no one. Every edition of their work has revealed change, sometimes intensive, sometimes casual. A large measure of the Beatles' attractiveness is centered around this basic—and probably intuitive—need to extend the limits of their art. Lennon is a natural lyricist in much the way, I would say, that Larry Hart was. Lennon makes banal rhymes and gets away with it. He can rhyme "I was mean" with "I'm changing my scene"; he can match "Nothing to say" with "but what a day" and couple successive phrases like "I get by," "I get high" and "going to try", and make them all work. Why? Because he is a masterful storyteller, even with abstract...

(The entire section is 421 words.)

Robert Christgau

The Beatles really started the whole long-haired hippie business four years ago, and who knows whether they developed with it or it developed with them? All those hours of analysis are a gauge of how important the Beatles have become to … us.

One song on Sgt. Pepper, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", seems to me deliberately one-dimensional, nothing more than a description of a traveling circus. It fits beautifully into the album, which is kind of a long vaudeville show, but I feel almost certain it has no "meaning". Yet one girl, age fifteen, writes that it presents "life as an eerie, perverted circus." Is this sad? silly? horrifying? contemptible? From an adult it might be all four, but...

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Alejandro Enrique Planchart

The Beatles' music, up to the time of their first movie, still belongs in the earlier tradition of rock 'n' roll. Each new album had one or two really remarkable songs that today seem to anticipate the later pieces. But I have the feeling that there was a real change at about the time of A Hard Day's Night, and that the seeds of that change were literary rather than musical. They came essentially from Lennon's acute sensitivity to the spiritual world and to the hang-ups of the British middle class. While most critics were surprised by how good A Hard Day's Night was (where had they been?), Lennon's In His Own Write and the later A Spaniard in the Works brought about mixed reactions. Many...

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Frederic V. Grunfeld

[The] Beatles are now in a position to do anything at all and have it listened to. Their recent oeuvre, notably Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Magical Mystery Tour, is a great eclectic circus of Indian raga, Salvation Army, Benjamin British, tailgate, gutbucket, and aleatoric chance-music, all handled without hang-ups or uptightness. There is a lovely lawlessness about it that reminds one of the "indeterminacy" experiments of John Cage, the father of random music-making. Cage did this sort of thing for years, but he had to explain himself. The Beatles do it without explaining: "You don't say love, you do it" is an old psychedelic proverb. (p. 56)

Rhythmically [the]...

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Susan Lydon

Time was when the Beatles could be viewed as the vanguard of a cultural revolution without so much as bothering their heads about politics. Just what was implicit in their music was enough: an assumption of generational revolt and the existence of sub-cultures with alternative life styles. (p. 65)

In the beginning, the Beatles never had to attack the system overtly; their very success implied the criticism. Being isolationist and apolitical was in itself a departure from the values of the older generation; in English terms it meant not giving a damn about the Queen and her crumbling empire….

The Beatles were more than a rock band. They offered up their whole lives as a kind of...

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Tom Wolfe

September…. The Merry Pranksters are getting ready to head bombed out into the mightiest crazed throng in San Francisco history, come to see the Beatles at the Cow Palace. (p. 178)

Inside the Cow Palace it is very roaring hell. Somehow [Ken Kesey, the leader of the Merry Pranksters] and Babbs lead the Day-Glo crazies up to their seats. The pranksters are sitting in a great clump, a wacky perch up high in precipitous pitch high up pitching down to the stage and millions of the screaming teeny freaks. The teeny freaks, tens of thousands of little girls, have gone raving mad already, even though the Beatles have not come on. Other groups, preliminaries, keep trooping on…. (p. 181)

...

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Alfred G. Aronowitz

By the weight of the crate, The Beatles is the most ambitious album of their career. It took five months to produce through a session of doubt as Paul was changing friends, John was changing wives and the four of them were trying to build a corporate Garden of Eden where they could walk naked, have their Apple and eat it, too. They were off the Maharishi but still whistling tunes they had written on the road to Rishikesh. I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind! shouts John. His suffering in this album becomes as heavy as the cement that holds the Beatles together. Poor John. With his songs so patently autobiographical, how must one react to lines like, I feel so suicidal, just...

(The entire section is 392 words.)

John Gabree

The Beatles, ninety minutes of music on two records, is massively boring, a collection of mediocre compositions given some of the most flaccid performances of recent months. The only tension on the album is between the quartet's snottiness and their indifference to the audience.

A good deal of the new album is taken up with a variety of homages and parodies (and, by and large, parody is a lazy man's art form): mock country-and-western, mock West Indian, mock Beach Boys, mock teeny rock, mock electronic music, mock '30s pop, and especially mock Beatles. Most of it doesn't work and some of it is even offensive: for example, the parody of the Beach Boys is sloppy and unconvincing (although the...

(The entire section is 241 words.)

Ellen Sander

There are no nagging inconsistencies in Abbey Road, no finger-pointing or exasperating enigmas, just a whole mess of sublimely executed, elegantly composed Beatles music.

Yea, team.

Shimmering brilliance and unbounded creative energy grace every moment of Abbey Road. It is alternately bright, silly, warm, funny, childlike, funky, and glib, seamlessly bound into a perfectly molded entity born fresh into the day. All the insecure raggedness of the plain white album is gone and Abbey Road emerges a glowing tour de force.

It opens with a fresh, salty rock 'n' roll stompalong, "Come Together," peppered with spicy Lennon one-liners, underpinned with...

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Michael Wood

Lennon and McCartney's early lyrics were thin and conventional. There was rain in the heart, there were stars in the sky, birds were always threatening not to sing. The tunes were good, some of them as good as those of Rodgers or Leonard Bernstein. But the gap between words and music in pieces like "If I Fell," "And I Love Her," "Ask Me Why," "Not a Second Time," was embarrassing for anyone who wanted to take the songs seriously. The best lyrics, which went with up-tempo numbers like, "I Feel Fine," "All My Lovin'," "Can't Buy Me Love," were the ones which said the least. They said yeh, approximately. I'm not suggesting that Lennon and McCartney didn't know how conventional they were being, or that they couldn't have...

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Spencer C. Bennett

[The Beatles'] format is that of anonymity and role playing. Although this group is comprised of multitalented individuals, nobody thinks of them as anything less than a unity. Their anonymity is purposeful and deliberate. They cultivate their ability to assume many roles but they never do so at the expense of fragmentizing that strong outline of the four of them in any one song or film. It's Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but Sergeant Pepper is a corporate entity.

They also deal with time and space in terms of their universal implications. Time is important as a medium through which transtemporality can be expressed. The same is true of space…. The Beatles are concerned with age, human...

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Russel Nye

While the Beatles' audience might be preponderantly pubescent, at the same time their musical ideas attracted and influenced serious, sophisticated, professional musicians. A substantial part of their popularity among the young was perhaps more sociological than musical, and it seems safe to assume that a large number of teen-age Beatle enthusiasts had little or no concept of the musical content of their recordings. Their exuberant vitality, their delicate handling of sentimentality, and their real lyrical gifts offered something new and fresh to popular music. At the same time, their topical, carefully-coded lyrics, with concealed references to sex, drugs, and rebellion, captivated restless and uncertain youth...

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Bud Scoppa

When I first heard Ram in bits and pieces on the radio several weeks ago, I hated it. I didn't care much for the single, either. But then, feeling myself getting swept up in the anti-McCartney backlash that seems to be building daily, I promised myself to listen to the album with open ears. I did, and now I have to admit that I like most of it very much. Musically, it's easily the most successful post-Beatle album yet.

McCartney excels at composing riffs; he doesn't write concertos. His genius is most evident in the sheer simplicity of his creations. Side two of Abbey Road is McCartney at his best: first conceiving, then executing, finally juxtaposing a rainbow pattern of simple melodic...

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Ben Gerson

Imagine raises the question how much further John can progress with the vocabulary of concepts and feelings laid down on John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band.

POB's importance lay not in the fact that it is the culmination of certain tensions which can be seen in John's work since the beginning (the lyrical directness and vocal intensity, for example), but that it was also their solution. As an early adolescent, John chose rock as both his artistic and therapeutic medium. Rock and roll's way of solving problems is simply stating and restating them ("I Can't Get No Satisfaction" is the classic example) and through the resulting emotional and physical exhaustion, the pressure is...

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Albert Goldman

The history of the Beatles is pop culture's redaction of the myth of innocence and experience. When the famous four set out on their careers, they knew nothing of art or life. At home only in the rough-and-tumble world of the Liverpool cellar club or the Hamburg Lokal, they were a shaggy and ignorant crew. They could not read music, they could barely play their instruments, and their idea of a joke was to come out on the bandstand wearing toilet seats around their necks. Since then their careers and lives have mounted upward and outward in dizzying gyres that have swept them around the whole world of twentieth-century life and culture and set them on terms of respect and familiarity with some of the most...

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Richard Poirier

Any close listening to musical groups soon establishes the fact that as composers and performers the Beatles repay attention altogether more than does any other group, American or English. They offer something for nearly everyone and respond to almost any kind of interest. (pp. 120-21)

More aloof from politics than the Stones, their topicality is of music, the social predicaments, and especially the sentiments traditional to folk songs and ballads. Maybe the most important service of the Beatles and similar groups is the restoration to good standing of the simplicities that have frightened us into irony and the search for irony; they locate the beauty and pathos of commonplace feelings even while...

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Barbara Suczek

An interesting example of the social construction of a mystery occurred in the late months of 1969, when a strange surge of excitement spread across the country, fomented, apparently, by persistent rumors relating to the nature and circumstances of the alleged death of Beatle Paul McCartney. (p. 61)

The story, in gist, is as follows: Paul McCartney was allegedly killed in an automobile accident in England in November 1966. The remaining Beatles, fearing that public reaction to the news would adversely affect the fortunes of the group, agreed among themselves to keep the matter a secret. Since it was obvious that Paul could not simply disappear from their midst without rousing a storm of embarrassing...

(The entire section is 1885 words.)

Bruce Harris

Since the breakup of The Beatles, Paul has had the unhappy role of playing villain, a problem that has been amplified by things John Lennon has said and sung, statements that Paul has not answered extensively in any interview. Only in his lyrics do we discover any of his attitudes, and even there Paul backs off the subject, being clever but not really incisive: "Too many people sharing party lines, / Too many people never sleeping late. / Too many people paying parking fines, / Too many hungry people losing weight." (Too Many People by Paul McCartney.)

That's really not much of an answer to "I've seen religion from Jesus to Paul," or "Those freaks was right when they said you was dead, / The...

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Stephen Holden

[Some Time in New York City] represents only another logical step in [John's and Yoko's] artistic devolution. More than on any previous album it shows [them] actively functioning as an interdependent unit. Five songs are collaborations; of the other five, three are by Yoko and two by John. The overall ideology takes the Maoist view that art, life, and politics should be inseparable and, in the ultimate order of things, indistinguishable. Some Time in New York City is thus entirely devoted to propaganda. But as proganda it is so embarrassingly puerile as to constitute an advertisement against itself.

The songs on Some Time in New York City are a little better than "Power to the...

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David R. Pichaske

Some of the lyrics of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, and Leonard Cohen are the vaguest of all pop songs except, of course, for those that degenerate into utter absurdity. They are not different from much of contemporary poetry, which has also become so subtle and indirect as to admit to a wide variety of possible interpretations…. Very little can definitely be said about the theme of "I Am the Walrus," except that it is an exceptionally unpleasant song about death or ugliness or perversion or a combination of the three and even more. "Norwegian Wood" is a hauntingly beautiful lyric on a more pleasant but equally vague theme…. More than one individual has suggested that this is a narrative about a drug...

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Wilfrid Mellers

[What] kind of world did [the Beatles] evoke in their early years, from [their] interfusion of American black blues and white rock and Country-Western, of Anglo-Irish folk music and song and dance from music-hall and pub? From the start the Beatles were individualities who sought a corporate identity. Though only during the first year or two did Lennon and McCartney actually compose together, there's point in the ascription of the songs to their joint authorship. They needed one another for their fulfilment: needed, in a rather different way, the other two Beatles; and the separate ways in which they grew up were affected by the identity they'd sought for in the early years…. [Their] 'group' sense—their...

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Jon Landau

Band on the Run finds McCartney walking a middle ground between autobiographical songwriting and subtle attempts to mythologize his own experience through the creation of a fantasy world of adventure—perhaps remotely inspired by his having recently written "Live and Let Die." He does it by uniting the myth of the rock star and the outlaw, the original legendary figure on the run.

Up until now, the critical assumption has been that McCartney's lyrics mean little if anything, that he is a mere stylist, playing games with words and sounds. And it is of course possible that the words to Band on the Run don't mean (or weren't intended to mean) as much as I think they do. But I'll take a...

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Ben Gerson

Walls and Bridges shows John Lennon to be as mercurial as ever. I anticipated an unbearable suffering occasioned by the collapse of one of this century's most public love affairs—after all, Yoko Ono was presented as the membrane between agony and peace for Lennon, between illusion and reality. Yet the relative clearheadedness of this album suggests that she may have been only the most recent in a series of causes from which Lennon is extricating himself with customary agility. He seemed more pugnacious, more doctrinaire, more vulnerable when Yoko was supposedly supplying him with bliss than he is today.

For the first time since the formation of the Beatles, Lennon is on his own and,...

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Jeff Greenfield

When the Beatles broke up in 1970 in a welter of lawsuits and recriminations, the sixties were ending as well—in spirit as well as by the calendar. Bloodshed and bombings on campus, the harsh realities beneath the facile hopes for a "Woodstock nation," the shabby refuse of counterculture communities, all helped kill the dream.

What remains remarkable now, almost 20 years after John Lennon started playing rock 'n' roll music, more than a decade after their first worldwide conquest, is how appealing this dream was; how its vision of the world gripped so much of a generation; how that dream reshaped our recent past and affects us still….

[The] impact of the Beatles cannot be waved...

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Paul Nelson

As time goes by, John Lennon's importance to the Beatles becomes more and more self-evident. The same old story we've been hearing for years—that Lennon's wit and abrasive probing were needed to balance Paul McCartney's melodic charm and sweetness—is obvious but true….

Lennon probably had nothing whatsoever to do with Venus and Mars, the new Wings album, but somehow the ghost of his sincerity not only haunts but also accentuates the cool calculation of the McCartney project, and a jarring primal scream or two might make me feel less enraged by Paul and Linda's chic, unconvincing and blatant bid to be enshrined as pop music's Romeo and Juliet. One can point out that John and Yoko were no...

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ROY CARR and TONY TYLER

[The initial meeting between John and Paul] in the late 'fifties led to events that shook the world.

This is no exaggeration. How many of us can look around and deny that the Beatles at least seemed to initiate many of those changes in our social attitudes and tastes that took place in the 'sixties and which still reverberate today? Possibly it was just the group's good luck to be so closely identified with these mass changes in consciousness. Yet many who still view the whole Beatle Phenomenon through wistfully pink-lensed spectacles will always secretly be convinced that the Beatles were behind the whole thing from the start. (p. 5)

With the release of [the] superb...

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Lester Bangs

What has McCartney got that makes people of all ages the world over respond, that makes the media sit up and bark soon as he strolls across the pond, that makes his comeback solo tour a notary-certifiable Event in a day when rock tours are dubbed Events every time you turn around? His albums are, by and large, some of the blandest discs ever piped into a waiting room, and even his hit singles are so eminently forgettable that the titles evade recall without research. The man obviously proved he had a gift for melody in the Beatles, but his lyrics are so dopey they end up making fun of themselves, and on top of all that he insists on trundling his musically illiterate photographer wife with him everywhere, insistently,...

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R. Meltzer

First and foremost, Paul is still for all intents and purposes a Beatle—which automatically makes him preferable to Hubert Humphrey or Judy Garland under just about any grid of analysis you'd be likely to name. Second, the great Willie Nelson became the first country singer per se to cut a Beatle song and the one he chose back in '66 or so was of all things "Yesterday," proof that some people besides boobs and assflames actually dig that 4th-rate garbage of his. Third, well I dunno … y'gotta admit the reviews're still basically mixed … 30 years from now when he's the Maurice Chevalier of his generation and he's on the Johnny Carson Show talkin' about how swell it's been, then is when we'll...

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Greil Marcus

[The music on Meet the Bealtes] was instantly recognizable and like nothing we had ever heard. It was joyous, threatening, absurd, arrogant, determined, innocent and tough….

It was only in the context of the Beatles event that their music was perceived for what it was.

The event was a pop explosion; the second, and thus far the last, that rock and roll has produced. (p. 175)

[At] its heart, a pop explosion attaches the individual to a group—the fan to an audience, the solitary to a generation—in essence, forms a group and creates new loyalties—while at the same time it increases one's ability to respond to a particular pop artifact, or a...

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Nicholas Schaffner

The Beatles will be remembered not only for their considerable contribution as songwriters and recording artists, but also as the most remarkable cultural and sociological phenomenon of their time. During the 1960's they seemed to transform, however unwittingly, the look, sound, and style of at least one generation. They had, of course, a lot of help from a great many friends—but it was more than anyone else, John, Paul, George, and Ringo who set in motion the forces that made a whole era what it was, and, by extension, what it is today.

The impact the Beatles made is incalculable, not only in popular music and in every other fact of the music business—be it album cover design, the quality of...

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