Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dear John

"I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!" --John Lennon, 1969

It was thirty-eight years ago today that The Beatles played their last public performance atop Apple headquarters in Savile Row, London. Although the gig only consisted of five songs (Get Back, Don't Let Me Down, I've Got a Feeling, One After 909, and Dig a Pony), the performance was, in my opinion, their best ever (thanks to the divine electric keyboarding of the late, and oft-forgotten Billy Preston). We now know, thanks to the "Anthology" DVD, that the group quarrelled much during this period of their career. Although at the time much of the Beatles' music was overshadowed by tabloid rumours of their inevitable break-up (which soon thereafter came true), in retrospect, it really didn't matter that Paul hated John, George hated Paul or that the band hated Yoko (minus John, of course). The moment the once "Fab Four" made their way atop Apple and the first driving riffs of "Get Back" were plucked out, it was just like old times -- even George cracked his familiar smile here and there. Bewildered bystanders young and old joined together to watch this historic occasion. Once again, they were on top of the world, this time literally.

Curiously, today also marks the anniversary of Nirvana's final recording session in 1994, exactly twenty-five years after the Beatles roof top concert. While musically, the Beatles and Nirvana were apples and oranges, the impact both had on their respective times is hauntingly similar. Both groups attracted millions of listeners worldwide and had (and continue to have) enormous effects on what we listened to, how we thought, and even what we wore (from Beatle haircuts to flannel shirts).

Even Nirvana, who probably realized early on the infectious influence they had on 90's youth, parodied the renowned Beatles Ed Sullivan performance in their video, "In Bloom" (perhaps as tribute, but more likely as a way to deceive terrified parents into thinking that they were "good guys," like their generation's Beatles -- at least for the first 2:30 of the video). Likewise, I have little doubt that had the Beatles survived into the 90's, we all would own a copy of The Beatles "Unplugged" in our now-defunct CD collections.

There will NEVER be another Beatles or Nirvana. All we can hope for is that every few years a new band or artist reels us in and reminds us of a time when music was pure and meant something.

But don't worry John, even thirty-eight years later, I think it's safe to say you passed the audition.

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