Monday, January 23, 2006
The early beatals*
I'm 1/4 of the way through this new Beatles biography and for someone who knew only the music, it has been a fun read so far. I tend to think of them as this fully formed force of nature, so it has been interesting to read about the changing balance of power as they formed and grew. I'm thinking, for example, even of the obstacles posed by the relative age differences between Paul and George on one hand and John on the other. I love the thought of the two young ones sneaking into John's art school for furtive smoke breaks and to ogle the art school birds.
What I dig the most maybe is the sheer industry about them as they jumped into rock music. They had no idea what they were doing with these crappy guitars, but they locked themselves into their rooms and pieced it together. They weren't good students, but they were smart and found something they wanted to do and they devoted themselves to it. School should be more about finding what you want to do and doing it and less about finding out what other people want you to do. Most of the fault here lies with the way school is organized in this country, but your occasional student who doesn't seem to have any real interests has to share some blame, too.
Especially beautiful to me in this book is the way that American music feels like a message from another universe when it reaches their ears over late night radio broadcasts. I can relate it to life before the internet: music was a bigger deal for me back before you could download an album by someone within 10 seconds of hearing about them for the first time. Back then, the act of discovering a new band, or finding an album, or even a cd, could be a quest in itself. That quest is gone now, pretty much, and when you can't go on a quest, it's hard to feel like a knight.
* this is how they really spelled their name at first. How crazy is that?