Monday, July 23, 2018

"We are talking about ourselves".

I am lucky that I was a teenager during the nineteen-sixties (1960s). One of the phenomena of the 1960s was Beatlemania. There was a saying that if you were a teenager during the 60s and you did not like The Beatles there is something wrong with you. Well, I am not one of them. Even now I still listen to The Beatles and I have a collection of their records and CDs.

Maybe I was fortunate that I managed to enter a fully residential school for my secondary studies where the medium of instruction was English. Every hostel at the school was provided with an electrical radio. This was a radio that was fixed to the wall and not a transistor type where you could carry around. Again I was fortunate that the radio for my hostel was just fixed next to my dormitory.

The radio was controlled by my seniors and I was not allowed to touch it until I was senior enough. Most of the time the radio was tuned to English language stations broadcast from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and of course, they played English language songs by singers from the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Of all the musicians, I was attracted initially to Cliff Richard and The Shadows of the United Kingdom. Even though Elvis Presley of USA was great and many called him the greatest, somehow I did not like him. 

But everything changed when The Beatles came to the show. I can say about 90% of my contemporary schoolmates liked the Beatles. Many of them even abandoned Elvis, Cliff and the rest for The Beatles. But for me even though I like The Beatles until today, my liking to Cliff Richard and The Shadows never subsides. 

Besides being great singers and musicians, The Beatles, except for their drummer Ringo, were great songwriters. John Lennon and Paul McCartney even wrote songs for other singers like Cilla Black and Billy J Kramer. The earlier Beatles hits were real Lennon-McCartney collaborations with love as their themes. Examples can be seen from song titles like 'Love Me Do', 'P.S. I Love You', 'She Loves You' and 'Can't Buy Me Love'.

In their later years, John and Paul were writing individual songs for the group although every song was penned as a Lennon-McCartney composition because of a contractual agreement between the two. A good example is 'Yesterday' which did not involve John at all as a composer, singer or musician.

The themes of their songs also deviated from love to worldly affairs. Examples are 'Revolution', 'Fixing a Hole', 'Mr. Kite' and 'Dr. Roberts'. But, it did not prevent them from recording the great love song 'All You Need is Love', a John Lennon composition actually.

When The Beatles disbanded in 1970, John and Paul were free to use their names exclusively for their compositions. One reason for the disbandment was some disagreement between the two. Due to that, some of their post Beatles compositions actually were attacks against the other. Suddenly two of the greatest songwriters in the world who started writing songs about love were doing the opposite  and expressing it in their song lyrics.

After a while, John Lennon called for a truce and the attacks stopped. When asked why the sudden change, John replied: "I realised that when we talk about others, we are talking about ourselves".

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