spontaneity and happiness with the beatles

its has been 40 years since the beatles were around as a group, but something in their music is alive today, and will remain so later. their music represents the mood of the 60s, as it was mostly in europe and north america: it is anything but traditional, it makes fun of everything under the sky (“we are more popular than jesus these days”), it talks of love that is innocent and naive (“bright are the stars that shine, dark is the sky.. i know this love of mine, will never die”), charming and a bit crazy (“i once had a girl, or should i say, she once had me”) and sensitive (“there are places i remember.. “).

the beatles were part of the 60s generation that wanted to break away from norms and discover new ways of living.  the previous generations had failed them. world wars, destruction, unhappiness and lack of meaning, despite all the wealth. so the 60s children decided to seek new ways of living.  a great deal of friendliness, separate communities,  innovative psychotherapies, free love (read free sex), long hair on men, peace marches, drugs, eastern spirituality, the guru business, long travels (i met someone who  drove from norway to pakistan during that time,  finally having to sell his car in peshawar because the indians wouldn’t let him in with it), communism… the flower children were a heady mix of a lot of things.  if there was one thing held it all together was the spirit of finding new, refreshing and original ways of living.

most of these activities have died out today, or are confined to the narrow margins of society. but the spontaneity and charm of the beatles remains, and still reminds us of that spirit. the music makes you sway your head so naturally, the words relate to your own desires for happiness as well as your fascination for the absurdly funny (“obla di obla da, brah! lalala how life goes on..” ). in there resides a child who wants to have fun, along with the adult who can see through games people play(“doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to, isn’t he a bit like you and me”). in fact, i sometimes feel that the beatles were post-modern before there was any post-modernism.

i read an interesting conversation on the dyade blog on whether pop music can ever reach the great depths of classical music. in most cases, the answer is an obvious and emphatic no. with the beatles, i may reconsider that. the spontaneous, natural, simplistic nature of pop itself is shown to have great depths by the beatles. “nowhere man” cannot stir the soul like the music of bach, but it can stir the soul in another way which is also profound. this rarely happens with pop, but it does happen in the case of the beatles.

so what made the beatles the great band that they were? great music, for sure. being representative of the spirit of a very special decade in recent history, that too. an important reason that the beatles’ music is still alive is because they represent that spirit of living in fresh, original ways, and at the same time touch a chord emotionally, giving expression to our own innocent, naive, loving and laughing selves. and they do it with wonderful skill.

spontaneity, charm, love, reflection… makes the beatles.

ah.. finally, i cannot end this post without writing about the beatles in rishikesh. they came to rishikesh to practice transcendental meditation. but they got disillusioned by their guru, maharishi mahesh yogi and returned soon. nobody exactly knows why. during their time here, they composed at least two very good songs and on their return, they composed an ode to the maharishi, calling it sexy sadie (nickname for the maharishi, who looked anything but sexy). i see it as a fascinating example of the openness of that generation that the world’s most famous band came to india to explore hindu spirituality. and also of the strange state of india, and spirituality in the world in general, that they returned disillusioned (except george, who was a life-long hare krishna.. now lets keep all thoughts on those fascinating blokes for another blog post):

sexy sadie, what have you done..

you made a fool of everyone

sexy sadie, what have you done..

one sunny day, the world was waiting for a lover

she came along and turned on everyone

ooh sexy sadie, what have you done..

ooh sexy sadie, you made a fool of everyone..

sexy sadie, you’ll get yours yet

however big you think you are

sexy sadie, she’s the latest and the greatest of them all..


~ by tdcatss on July 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “spontaneity and happiness with the beatles”

  1. i really dig your perspective on the metaphors of lyrics in the beatles’ music! did you come up with this p.o.v. via your own intuition or derived it from some source like a biography? btw this sounds like maharishi is due for some instant karma in rishikesh? i really love that photo of the band in rishikesh with mahesh,
    see it in my post about the love guru. sounds like mike myers put you up to this… thought you might enjoy this…
    : )

  2. i didn’t get what you meant by metaphors in the lyrics. i think i understand them quite literally! and yeah.. i really like those pictures too. the book is too expensive to buy i think :(

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