The Beatles

Ok, can we all agree that The Beatles are the band most representative of the middle of the 20th century? Expecially given the experimentation they brought to their music as they became more successful which enabled them to explore styles and subjects, the Beatles catalog stands (in my opinion) as the primary textbook for creating 20th century music. Can I possibly hold them with more reverence? Probably not.

However, this is now the 21st century. As much as I understand conservative forces that would like to keep change from getting out of hand and preserve things in an understandable form, I also recognize the inevitability of change and the necessity of adapting to that change. Here's an interesting quote from a review of the video for Gnarls Barkely's Crazy by Andrew Olson.

Imagine the Beatles music catalog like this great endangered bird living in a cage. We all get to walk up and look at it, but never get to touch it. The bird also sits in a cage and never is free to explore what is out there. The best music ever made needs to be freed from its cage and mixed into new forms.

Olson was referring specifically to DJ Dangermouse's Grey Album, but I think it covers how I feel about the (non-unique) situation occupied by The Beatles in our culture and music. Copyright exists to assure that the original artists receive due compensation for their works, and I certainly support that, however I feel that once created and released into the world, a work of art has its own independant existence. Although I don't consider inanimate works to be creatures, I do think that this existence can be modelled as if the work were a kind of organism. The environment such an organism occupies is our culture.

I hope you'll forgive the extended metaphor, but eventually such an organism becomes bigger and more important than the one that created it. An organism like that cannot be killed, but it can die of neglect. The only way to assure the organism's immortality is to allow it to breed with others and create hybrids and descendants. It has to be let out of the cage, or it will die.

Secretly, under cover of darkness, it already is out of the cage. The children have been bred and are thriving. All that remains is for the owners of the parent to acknowledge it, and rather than fighting to kill these progeny, promote them as the heirs they are.

2007.10.25 at 12:00am EDT