09 Dec 2015
Mark Lewisohn in conversation with Rohan Silva.
Mark Lewisohn (author, Tune In) and Rohan Silva (co-founder, Second Home) talk about the Beatles – how they revolutionised the sound, style, acceptance and attitude of popular music.
If it was still necessary to sell the Beatles, you could point to an almost infinite list of achievements, but their music underpins everything: one game-changing album after another and one game-changing single after another, 214 tracks recorded in seven crowded years in a kaleidoscope of styles. This music is loved, imitated, cherished and studied, it continues to inspire new artists and be reshaped impressively in every genre, it’s adapted for headlines in twenty-first century media, quoted and folded into everyday vocabulary, chanted in football stadiums. Infused with the Beatles’ energy and personalities, this music still lifts the spirit and is passed joyfully from generation to generation.
Clearly, something special happened here – but what? How? Consider too how the Beatles repeatedly married cutting-edge originality with immense mainstream popularity, when to almost anyone else these are mutually exclusive; and why (and how) they ditched their winning ideas every time the world raced to copy them.
Consider how they did everything with down-to-earth humour, honesty, optimism, style, irreverence, intelligence and a particularly spiky disdain for falseness; how they were articulate, bold, curious, direct, instinctive, challenging, blunt, sharp, polite, rude, prickers of pomposity, rule-breakers never cowed by convention.
Consider how they created a profound and sustained connection to their public, and how they resisted branding, commercial sponsorship, corporate affiliation and hype; the Beatles were free of artifice and weren’t the product of market research or focus groups or TV talent shows – they were original and developed organically when everyone was looking the other way.
Mark Lewisohn is the acknowledged world authority on the Beatles. Before beginning his All These Years trilogy, his books included the bestselling and influential Recording Sessions, The Complete Beatles Chronicle and (as co-author) The Beatles' London.