By Roman Holland
There are numerous cultural touchstones that will not transcend generations. A great cigarette is one, as is a really great steak. Excellent television programs not so much - there's a concrete and very easily measurable generation gap when it comes to what distinct generations of folks like watching on the tube. Excellent music is even more stratified. You're not going to uncover a lot of baby boomers who'd list the Arctic Monkeys among their favorite bands, just like you won't come across many Generation Y'ers who'll profess their enjoyment of James Taylor or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
Yet whatever the race, color, creed or generation, it seems unanimous that everyone loves the music of the Beatles. From the quiet early strains of "Love Me, Do" to the last refrain of "Hey Jude," Beatles music crosses generations and bridges cultures in a way the music of no other artist does.
My family is an interesting example. I'm thirty-three years old, a bit of a musician, a liberal, and I live in New York City. Some would call me a hipster (a label I'd reject, but that would just make me more hipsterish, so whatever). My brother is a year and a half older than me, an engineer living in the suburbs with a wife, a kid, a sit-down lawnmower and a pick-up truck.
Then take my mom. At age sixty-five she's still teaching troubled children from the inner-city, as well as mentally-handicapped children from both the city and the well-to-do suburbs.
What's the typical thread? We all appreciate Beatles music. The themes that John Lennon and Paul McCartney dealt with lyrically are universal, needless to say - regardless of whether it comes to a really great song like "Yesterday" or a call for social responsibility like "Across the Universe", nearly all Beatles music rings true and distinct. There's something for everyone to latch onto in almost any given piece of Beatles music, and as a result it's timeless.
On top of that, you can add that, musically, the Beatles blended ear-candy style bubblegum pop with complex basslines, creative lead guitar and ground-breaking sound mixing. What they did in the studio from Rubber Soul to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band basically hasn't been replicated. Even the most snobbish classical music or jazz buffs recognize the virtuosity in Beatles music. And that's what sets the Beatles apart.
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