Image from The Compleat Beatles Covers website (http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~ratib/beatles/); accessed July 30, 2012.
The music industry climate of 1962 when the Beatles began their recording career was quite a different place from the one that existed in 1969 when they made their last recordings. They were one of the most significant forces, if not the most significant force that effected those changes in seven breakneck paced years. In 1962, pop music was the domain of the production companies and the music publishers. Pop groups (the term ‘recording artist’ would be considered laughably pretentious at that time) were groomed and polished and performed songs chosen for them by producers and record company executives from a pool of songwriters.
When the Beatles walked into the studio, two of them (John Lennon and Paul McCartney) were already immensely gifted and prolific songwriters with visions of grandeur that would bear comparison with the Gershwins or Rodgers and Hammerstein. Fortunately, they encountered an open-minded producer in George Martin who saw the potential of using much of their promising original material and, after deliberating over which one would be the lead singer, decided to use both John and Paul. This ‘out of the box’ thinking, along with the group’s out of the box approach to songwriting and performing led to a fresh recording sound that arrived at a time that was ripe for revolutionary (and evolutionary) change.
The next seven years saw the Beatles (a four-sided entity that also included guitarist George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr) consistently produce singles and albums that shot to the top of popular charts as well as critics’ lists. Their output changed the general perception of rock’n’roll as original, versatile music that could be taken seriously as ‘art’. They led trends and inspired many other talented people to push their own envelopes and strive to produce new and innovative music. By the end of the decade, few snobs were scoffing at that term when applied to the music the band had produced, especially in the wake of masterpieces such as Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road and classic songs such as “Norwegian Wood,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “A Day in the Life” and “Here Comes the Sun”.
By Brian Bess