FEATURE: The Day After Yesterday: How The Beatles Soundtracked Our Lives and Changed the World




The Day After Yesterday

IN THIS PHOTO: The Beatles/PHOTO CREDIT: © Apple Corps Ltd. 

How The Beatles Soundtracked Our Lives and Changed the World


SAY what you like about…


 IMAGE CREDIT: Universal Pictures UK

Richard Curtis and his films – I guess there is a bit of a gender split regarding popularity – but, in his latest flick, he poses a very interesting possibility: what would the world be like if The Beatles never existed! Of course, the concept of a hopeless songwriter waking up to find that he is the only one who remembers The Beatles – and claims ownership to their songs – is a far-out and impossible predicament. The film itself, Yesterday, is out on 21st June and I have heard some mixed reaction to it (Danny Boyle directs). On the one hand, fans of The Beatles will have an interest because the band’s music is played. Of course, I like everyone else is a massive fan of theirs but I do think that the modern-day pitch and scenario is not as appealing as one would hope – and I have heard Ed Sheeran appears at some point! In any case, it brings The Beatles’ music to new ears and it is always great hearing Beatles music being performed. Peter Bradshaw, writing in The Guardian gave his thoughts regarding the film:

Maybe it shouldn’t be any sort of evaluative factor, but the simple fact of hearing Beatles songs, the simple thought experiment of pretending to hear them for the first time, does carry a charge. And, although this film can be a bit hokey and uncertain on narrative development, the puppyish zest and fun summoned up by Curtis and Boyle carry it along. It’s ridiculous and indulgent at all times, like Russell Crowe shouting his “Are you not entertained” line from Gladiator wearing a Beatles wig. Yet there is a weird and heavy backwash of sadness at the end, a kind of melancholy comedown, and I can’t quite decide if that was intentional or not.

Arguably, the story as it pans out is a bit straightforward: there is no question of, say, some Beatles songs going down better than others in the present day. Moreover, Curtis scholars will see how Yesterday is a gender-switch version of Notting Hill, featuring an ordinary guy getting a brush with uber-glamour, with Joel Fry in the Rhys Ifans role of stupid best mate. There wasn’t much for Kate McKinnon to get hold of in the role of the nasty LA manager, but the onward rush of silliness compensates.

Of course, we’re heading for a colossal final cameo(s), and I was reasonably sure I knew what form this was going to take – but I was wrong. This big walk-on moment is every bit as sentimental and extravagantly sugary as everything else. For the first millisecond, though, it really will take you aback. As fab as it could reasonably be expected to be”.

Of course, the vision of a Beatles-less universe is a bone-chilling one! Imagine what music would be like without them. Not only would Pop be in a worse state but think of all the albums that would never have been recorded. Paul McCartney is seventy-seven on Tuesday and, kicking arse on tour as he is right now, it seems like there is no slowing him. In addition, The Beatles’ Abbey Road turns fifty in September. There is still a tonne of hunger for the classic Beatles hits.

Every one of us, to some degree, has exposure to The Beatles. I grew up listening to the music and albums like Abbey Road, Revolver; The Beatles and Rubber Soul were crucial discoveries. In Yesterday, there is this absence of The Beatles and, aside from a lone man, their music does not exist anywhere. The review above posits an interesting notion: what it is like hearing Beatles songs for the very first time. The band is ingrained into the psyche and, naturally, we all know their material back-to-front. There is a generation growing up that are hearing The Beatles for the first time. It was strange to me hearing them first in the 1980s, over a decade after they split. My parents experienced them the first time around in the 1960s and there are those who are just being born who will not hear a Beatles note for several more years. How different is the experience of The Beatles now compared to that first flash of excitement?! I regret I was not born when they started out; to experience that giddiness and delight. I love the fact that both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are still performing and, with anniversaries and new films, we are never too far away from a Beatles song! I cannot envisage life without The Beatles’ music and they have made a huge impact on me. To me, The Beatles’ music revolutionised how we experienced an album; the fact that they made these complete albums rather than just a single – people more drawn to an album as a piece of work in general.  

 IN THIS PHOTO: The Beatles at a press conference held at the West London home of their manager, Brian Epstein, on 19th May, 1967/PHOTO CREDIT: John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

How, then, did The Beatles change the world? There are a lot of great articles around but this feature lists the ways The Beatles transformed the music industry. There are some interesting points raised:

Questioning the taste of America’s youth is a pointless endeavor (it’s a matter of record that in the 50s, Pat Boone rivaled and occasionally exceeded Elvis Presley in teen popularity polls), but certainly the Beatles were a blast of cool air into a somewhat arid teen idol landscape. Not only were they intriguingly exotic with their Liverpudlian accents and unusual looks, but they were also like four teen idols wrapped up in one gleaming package. There was Paul, the cute and adorable one; John, the smart and slightly dangerous one; George, the quiet and shy one; and Ringo, the fun and goofy one. There was something for all teen tastes, made all the more enticing by the “all-for-one, one-for-all, lads” uniformity of their presentation: the matching moptops, collarless button-down suits, and Cuban-heeled ankle boots.

The Beatles were more self-aware than their previous pop sweepstakes aspirants. They recognized a certain absurdity to the pop game and seemed determined to go their own way. This attitude was always apparent in their dealings with the press. During such encounters, they would good-naturedly turn questions back to reporters or answer them with nonsense. The Beatles made it clear that they were independent thinkers who were going to do what they wanted to do, whether the world approved of them or not. Teens had cottoned on to the rebellious stance of James Dean and Elvis Presley a few years earlier; the Beatles adopted this stance, but they conveyed it in a more sophisticated and subtle way. Never as docile as Elvis, who was unfailingly polite to all adults no matter how crass they were, the Beatles’ quips during their press conferences could have genuine bite to them. It was one of many ways that they showed their awareness of the showbiz apparatus that they operated in and how deserving it was of lampooning. The resultant anarchy was confusing and charming to adults in equal measure.

Although this was the accepted way that the record industry functioned, the Beatles did not see themselves as a singles machine, even though they released some of the most successful singles in music history. They tried to make all of their songs worthwhile at a time when album releases were mostly filled up with lesser material included to bolster sales of a hit song. There had been exceptions to this rule before the Beatles, such as Frank Sinatra, who assembled many LPs of songs that related to a theme, or various jazz artists, whose sound evolved with each record release. But the Beatles were the first pop musicians to craft consistent albums in which each song was an important part of the whole. They worked to make each Beatles album high quality, beginning to end. They began to stress the primacy of the album over the hit song.

It is clear that The Beatles changed things and caused this great explosion. In terms of studio techniques and the album as a concept, they were hugely instrumental and vital. The songs themselves, of course, helped with their popularity. Whether writing tight and catchy Pop songs at the start of their careers or experimenting more from Revolver onward, The Beatles’ legacy and place in history cannot be doubted. It is not only the loss of their music and influence we would feel if they were not around. Consider the hysteria that greeted them and the Beatlemania sensation. Fans chasing the boys and that incredible wave of affection they garnered.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

The Beatles did so much in a relatively short career and it is breataking discovering all the music they put out. From album tracks to rarities and demos, there is a wealth of material out there! I want to bring another article in that talks about The Beatles and how their legacy continues to this day:

It can easily be said that the Beatles are the most influential band of all time. What sets them apart from everyone else is the continuing legacy they have left in music. As one of the decade-defining bands of the 1960s, the Beatles fully immersed themselves in anything and everything. They embodied what the "swinging sixties" were all about. It was one of the loudest and audacious decades in forms of art, music, culture, and news and the Beatles were smack dab in the middle of it. They absorbed everything around them and set off in their own direction: one that would define a generation. They changed the lifestyle of youths across the nation—something that history proves does not happen overnight.

The Beatles became the best friends of a generation and beyond. Despite two members having passed on, the power of their music has reached out to a new generation of fans that had not grown up with them. There is never-ending Beatles content to explore, whether it is music, promotional videos, interviews, or documentaries—there is something for everyone. They are a band the listeners could never bore of, only excitedly intrigued to hear more about.


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

It's time to look at how the Beatles constant impact on music and their long-lasting success make them the most influential music group of all time. How the world saw an explosion of a mass group of fans that had not been seen since Elvis, their inspiring fashion, the growth between albums that accumulated a back catalog like no other and their influence in the 1960s compared to today.

It is impossible to get into the history of music without listening to the Beatles. The four members we've grown to love have left their mark on countless bands and artists and still do today. They managed to influence a wide audience as not only a commercially successful and critically acclaimed band but at the head of cultural change”.

So many artists today owe a debt of gratitude to Paul McCartney, John Lennon; Ringo Starr and George Harrison. The Beatles seem supernatural in their talent and ability; above everything else in music and on their own planet. To even consider a world without them sort of chills the blood. I think Yesterday will give young fans an insight into the world of The Beatles; it is always good to see The Beatles represented in film, regardless of the context. I will end with a playlist because I think, more than anything, the music itself proves why The Beatles were so beloved and important. It is lucky Yesterday is fiction because, without The Beatles, the music world would be a…

MUCH poorer place.