Why Dreaming the Beatles?
The Beatles first entered my life in January 1964, when their first US major label album, Meet the Beatles (Capitol T-2047), arrived in our suburban home as it did in hundreds of thousands of others. Even as a preteen, I could recognize something unique within the music and photograph on that 12” x 12” sleeve and LP. Their 12-song performance was brimming with energy and confidence at a time when America was much in need of a tonic in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. It also demonstrated what I would later appreciate as exceptional musicianship.
As a professional musician in the 1970s, my groups would often include Beatles’ songs in our repertoire. No matter the time or place, the audience response was always predictable: they loved those songs! When I began to produce records and soundtracks in the following years, I could hear the impact the Beatles had on an entire generation of musicians. Echoes of their music or the techniques they pioneered could be heard in nearly every popular recording. More than any other artist in the history of popular music, they changed our perception of a sound recording from the capture of a live performance (Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock” comes to mind) to creating audio mini-movies, such as “She’s Leaving Home,” or “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” that transported listeners into the Beatles’ own imaginations. They irrevocably altered pop music. They also became dream-makers and culture-shapers at a time when our society was undergoing unprecedented change and youth were beginning to question authority as never before.
Over nearly three decades of teaching, I’d always wanted to develop an appreciation class on the Fab Four. During the spring 2020 term, ten students joined me in an exploration of the group’s legacy. We used their music, from “My Bonnie” to “Let It Be,” their business practices, which were nothing short of horrendous, and their cultural impact, as our lenses to develop a more nuanced appreciation for what the lads from Liverpool accomplished during their eleven-year run.
I challenged students to create a personal response to our learning journey as their final assignment in the course. “Dreaming the Beatles Gallery” is the result. * Each student’s contribution is accompanied by a brief statement of what inspired their work.
I hope you enjoy viewing and listening half as much as I have enjoyed leading them on this journey.
* I appropriated the title of our class, Dreaming the Beatles, from the title of Rob Sheffield’s outstanding book detailing his lifelong obsession with the band – it’s a loving portrait of just how much music can mean to someone. It’s well worth reading.
Header image "Beatles Vinyl" by Mike from Pexels, 2018.
Something that always stuck with me about the Beatles, besides their music obviously, was their unique visuals. I remember as a kid I loved their album artwork for all of their albums, and how creative they were with everything they did. For my final project, I decided I want to combine two things they were known for outside of their music: their strong artistic visuals and fashion.
What inspired me to create this work was seeing the impact that the Beatles had on culture and the world. They became so popular, and I felt the inclination to see how many albums they had sold over the course of their career. In my infographic, I examined the top five best selling Beatles albums and did some quick math to show what percent of the world’s population owns that particular album.
At the beginning of the semester I was asked “what is your favorite song by The Beatles?” I said that I didn’t know. I was told that by the end of the semester I will know. The sheet music used for the background in my piece is that of my two favorite songs by the band. “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “A Hard Day's Night.” My art piece is called “Come Together.” The title is not only the name of a Beatles song, but it helps to describe the entire piece. Throughout the course I learned a lot about the Fab Four and how their music and words influenced millions of people. For this piece I wanted to see how many artists I would be able to trace their influences back to The Beatles. When listening to our favorite artists we don’t really consider the musicians that may have inspired them. This piece illustrates the many musicians who were inspired by The Beatles in some way. It acts as a timeline to show how the artists we may listen to today were somehow influenced by the band. My piece shows how all of these artists “Come Together” and make music all from being inspired by The Beatles.
Here is my submission for Beatles Day. I thought that since the boys tried making music with every instrument they could get their creative hands on, I'd continue that creativity and imagined their music in electronic fashion. So here is my Twist & Shout remix. :)
I wanted to draw the submarine from 'Yellow Submarine' as this was the first song I ever listened to from The Beatles. The style of The Beatles from the top-left corner and the Octopus from the bottom-right corner was inspired by The Beatles cartoon and I really like the at style from the cartoon too.
The original framed collage was a birthday present when I was a huge Beatles fan in the sixth grade.
I decided to use this collage to contrast how I viewed the Beatles and how I consumed their music when I was younger and how that's evolved, as well as how their sound evolved as their career progressed.
I focused on how their songs began to be influenced by their drug use. Some of their songs with drug-influenced lyrics are featured in the painting.
*Note: Download Original collage in "Additional Files" below as well as Author Statement as original image file.
It became very clear while learning about the Beatles this semester is that the group truly were themselves while creating in the studio. This is an image of the group recording and I recreated the feel of that room.
I wanted to do something artistic for this project so I chose to do a grid drawing inspired by Chuck Close. In order to choose the color palate I used the colors of each of their uniforms on the album cover for Sgt. Peppers .