The Beatles Are Not That Good

A man in college once informed me “any girl whose favorite band is The Beatles is a keeper.” I told him I like P!nk more. I also observed that saying The Beatles is your favorite band seems like dubbing cake your favorite dessert. It’s the easiest, most universally acceptable answer to a universally difficult question.

The man did not go out with me again.

The Beatles’ albums are now all up on YouTube, as of Monday. r/Music is thrilled. And I really couldn’t care less. Their musical influence is undeniable, sure. They innovated the heck out of rock ‘n’ roll. But decades of blind Beatles worship, not to mention the deification of John Lennon, have turned me off to the besuited foursome from Liverpool. I’m over it. Their music may be well-written and they may have performed well for the time, but now I’d rather hear covers than the originals. Or new music altogether.

I’m over the glorification of John Lennon’s solo hit “Imagine.” As though Lennon didn’t openly beat his first wife. Sure, he worked through it and felt real bad later. But if there’s one thing that #MeToo has taught us, it’s that it’s hard to separate art from artist when you realize how terrible the artist was and how much their actions differed from the philosophies they professed. Lennon didn’t invent the concept of peace. We don’t owe him or his music that legacy.

I love “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” but at this point, I’d rather hear someone else sing it than George Harrison. At the very least, I’d rather hear him perform it with The Traveling Wilburys (his superstar band with other late rock legends like Tom Petty). That’s obviously impossible. The best version of that song I’ve ever heard was Martin Luther McCoy’s bluesy rendition in the 2007 Beatles musical Across the Universe.

Speaking of “Across the Universe”: today that song also feels less like a spiritual experience and more like a stifling time capsule of rock ‘n’ roll. Most of their music that was touted for its novel psychedelic-ness seems quaint in an era with weed dispensaries, personal virtual reality devices and beer yoga. I don’t approve of that last one but the point is, The Beatles are no longer groundbreaking and that’s fine.

“Yesterday” is one of their most covered songs and is mentioned on numerous “best of” lists. But if I’m honest, and I’m surely getting flayed for this one, even the auto-tuned Glee version sung by Lea Michele moves me more. Between that and the Across the Universe movie, Mr. Beatles Fanboy from college is definitely not going to date me any time soon.