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A Future Imaginable: The Beatles Rediscovered

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Imagine this: it's many, many years from now and humanity has colonized other inhabitable planets in the galaxy. An archaeological expedition has been organized by some future educational institution to return to the Earth, the mother planet of the spacefaring human race. It's been uninhabitable and abandoned for a long time, but still contains the occasional item of interest for those willing to sort through the rubble.

On this particular trip, the mission returns with only one acquisition: a flat, black, 7 inch disc. It seems to serve no purpose, but an ancient history professor identifies it for what it is: a portable sound storage device. Soon, technicians discover how to get the sound out of each groove cut into each side of the disc, and the researchers gather round to hear the ancient music emanating from the artifact. The look at the spinning picture of the green organic edible that decorates the affixed label and puzzle over the still readable large print – The BEATLES.

Like I said – imaginary. But the question here is simply this: If there were only two Beatles' song left to represent the best humanity had to offer in the popular music of the late 20th / early 21st century, which would you want them to be?

My personal choice for a 45 rpm double A side single would be "Strawberry Fields Forever" b/w "Hey Jude." I figure they pretty much cover all the bases when it comes to sampling the best things the Beatles ever did in terms of production, playing, writing, melody, harmony, arranging, and studio mastery. "A Day in the Life" is only excluded so there could be a Paul vocal and an example of a relative stripped down production as opposed to only showcasing the studio complexity of the Sgt. Pepper era.

Aw, heck – it's my imaginary scenario – let's make it a 12 inch EP with three songs on it. But I'm not going to go for a full length album – we'll be here for months trying to sort that one out. Let's leave our imaginary future descendants in their laboratory on some planet in some distant star system pondering if and how their world will change now that they've rediscovered the art of their ancestors. Now, if they can just figure out if that green piece of fruit on the label is a strawberry, and what would you do with a field of them.

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About Skeeter

  • You seem to be biased heavily towards late-period Beatles, as evidenced by your two song choices and your choice of 1967-1970–and ONLY 1967-1970–as your product link.

    But I can’t get with you on that, and for that matter neither could the Beatles. George Harrison claimed the best the band ever was was in Hamburg, while in 1980, with his entire career to look back on, Lennon said that the best song he ever wrote was “Help.”

    Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, of course, but from where I sit, having the early Beatles be forgotten by history would be nearly as much of a tragedy as having their entire oeuvre forgotten by history.

    So! my three-song EP:

    (1) “Please Please Me.” As pure pop-rock, one of the finest, tightest, most exciting examples ever produced.

    (2) “A Day in the Life.” The last, and best, song truly co-written by Lennon and McCartney, and maybe the single moment when rock & roll became genuinely viable as art.

    (3) “Something.” In the hope that in this imaginary future, George finally gets the props he deserves.

  • The concept of bias here is interesting – personally, I’d rather listen to Revolver nine times out of ten. I really was trying to suss out the songs that if it came down to eliminating all but two (or three) of the entire catalog, which ones would be left. Of course, over an album, I’d try to represnt a whole career.

    And product choice? well, simply, all of my choices are available on the Blue Album.

    Your choices are all good for the reasons you cited. A parallel imaginary universe to mine, perhaps.

  • A three song EP covering all the bases huh?

    Okay I’ll bite.

    1.) Hey Jude

    I’m with ya on this one for sure. The first time I heard this I was so enchanted with the second part of a growing chorus repeating the “Nah, Nah, Nah…Nah a Nah a Nah” part, that I can distinctly remember locking myself in my room to play it over and over. Donovan simalarly put me under his spell when he did the same thing with the song “Atlantis”.

    2.) The Night Before
    Probably the first time I noticed George in a big way (on the backing chorus)–even though the song is pretty much Paul’s as far as the lead vocal goes.

    3.) Paperback Writer
    I’d argue this as having the best bass line of any Beatles song ever, but the thick guitar chords here are the real hook for me. Just about as perfect a maraige of pop harmony and pre-hard rock guitar as you’ll find anywhere.

    So JC, maybe for your next list you oughtta go for best “Anti-Beatles”. I’d start that one off with the Rutles “Piggy In The Middle” or “Cheese And Onions”.

    You know, C-H-E-E-S-E-A-N-D-O-N-I-O-N-S—Ooh, No.

    Nice work as always.\


  • Nah… I’m done with them for now – best, worst – people are pretty passionate aboout the Fab Four, and I guess (as it’s been said) it’s a testament to their greatness.

  • 1)”Paperback Writer” –and its flipside,
    3)”Hey Jude” (can I slice off two minutes of na-na-na-nas and squeeze in “I’m Down” or “Please Please Me”?)

  • Geez, GL – you’re going to need a parallel universe with a 5 dimensional record player to pull that one off!

    On a somewhat unrelated topic – did anyone ever own the record Monty Python’s Matching tie & Handkerchief? One of its sides was double grooved – depending which groove your needle landed in, you got a completely different set of jokes & routines. So: 1) is this record worth anything?; and 2) are there any other records made like this?

    Maybe you could use that kind of trick to squeeze in all your tunes, Mr. H!

  • JC–The good news: I own an LP copy of Monty Python’s Matching Tie & Handkerchief, and it is worth owning, despite…

    the bad news: my copy is so warped that the needle skips back and forth among the grooves of 2nd/3rd “side,” enhancing the non-sensical surrealism and non-sequitors.

  • Not all pressing of MTH were like that. The CD contains all the tracks, and a remastered version is coming out tomorrow. Nudge, nudge.

  • John

    1. Ain’t She Sweet
    2. My Bonnie
    3. Besame Mucho

  • Doug

    1. Love of The Loved
    2. Hello Little Girl
    4. Sweet Georgia Brown

    Pete Best was the better drummer and any song he drummed on was pretty darn solid!

  • Dennis

    I would have to pick “I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door”, “Castin’ My Spell” and “Last Night” by The Pete Best Combo. They were better than The Beatles anyhow.

  • Joe

    1. Rain
    2. Like Dreamers Do
    3. Sour Milk Sea

  • Ken

    1. Strawberry Fields Forever
    2. My Bonnie
    3. Yesterday