1 - The Beatles and Ourselves
1 - The Beatles and Ourselves
There is much we can learn from The Beatle legacy.
For instance, “inspiration”: They personified the idea to everyone that “if they can do it – so can I.” They were excellent enablers and led the way themselves by example – not by “teaching” or “telling” others how to do it. In the process, they were exciting because they were so new, fresh and different. George remarked: “The Beatles saved the world from boredom.”
They taught us never to accept second-best. George remarked: We’re trying to always impress ourselves in a way. That’s why we keep trying to do things better... we are never satisfied.
They had standards – a good thing. And they were super-smart – all of them. Harrison left school at 16 and went on to become a guide for an entire generation. Lennon would have done brilliantly at school had he been disciplined.
McCartney would have excelled in the mainstream world of study and achievement. He would go on to say: “I vaguely mind anyone knowing anything I don’t know.” When he had the opportunity to become learned – he didn’t pass it up. It was the same for all of them.
Unlike other famous people they didn’t self-destruct – but served as a brilliant example of how people who acquire fame should relate to the public. It was the world that couldn’t find a way to not treat them as messiahs or angels. They were completely okay with it. Yet considering what they had to put up with, how is it that they all didn’t go completely crazy? Not only do they survive the madness, but all four go on to have prolific careers, on their own.
The Beatles were extremely modest and always self-deprecating. They were the essence of “humility” and what it means to be humble. They never abused their fame or took themselves too seriously, take their success for granted, or gloat about how good they were. Paul says in Anthologies:
“The basic thing in my mind was that for all our success The Beatles were always a great little band. Nothing more, nothing less.”
They taught us the meaning of the word selflessness – of sacrificing one’s own interest for the greater good. For them, it was always only about giving us – the fans – the greatest pleasure from the musical treasures they created. It was only about our pleasure and joy.
George said: “I’d like to think that all the old Beatle fans have grown up and they’ve got married and they’ve all got kids and they’re all more responsible, but they still have a space in their hearts for us.”
From Ringo we can learn how to express gratitude. He was the most grateful of them all – but not for the money, success or fame. In Anthologies he remembers: “There were some really loving, caring moments between four people: a hotel room here and there – a really amazing closeness. Just four guys who really loved each other. It was pretty sensational... I loved them. They were the brothers I never had.”
For him the “closeness” to these three other human beings is what remains the most important to him. He is telling us what is really important in the world – our bond to our fellow human being – our love and dependence on them.
We can learn from their mistakes
They taught us the meaning of the word “arrogance.” The film Magical Mystery Tour was a flop because McCartney thought that just because he was a successful singer-songwriter, this would automatically qualify him to create a professional film. Yet the music and the clips of them performing to the songs were brilliant. This all got forgotten in the rush to condemn the “failure” of the film. It didn’t matter than there was no storyline – the music carried it. Even at their lowest moment, The Beatles didn’t really fail. Perhaps in all of this is a lesson in how not to rush to judgment.
Another lesson we can learn from The Beatles is about self-aggrandizement and over-indulgence. The conventional view is that the company The Beatles created in early 1968, Apple, failed because none of them were experienced in business and it was arrogant of them to believe they were capable of running a company.
However it could also be argued that Apple failed because it went against the natural order. What they wanted to do was to provide artists who may not have good enough support with a handicap/subsidy. Those that approached Apple had yet to prove they were worthy and
for the most part had not yet put in the required time and worked hard to perfect whatever it was they were offering.
The Beatles themselves are a perfect example of the “natural order.” They had talent but had to work hard for a number of years before it all came together. Only the fittest survive, and in the
entertainment industry, all the more so. Yet they pompously announced to the world that they were going to change the “natural order” just because they had the money to do it.
From The Beatle legacy we can learn about greed, ego and ingratitude
George Harrison’s songwriting talent was stunted due to the humungous egos of McCartney and Lennon. While in the early days they could look down on his talent as a songwriter, halfway through their career they could not ignore it. Instead of encouraging him, as close friends and longtime band mates should have, they put “quotas” on the number of his songs that could appear on each album. Worried about their own privileged positions in the band, they had enough rivalry with each other and did not want a three-way competition.
George spent years helping make their songs sound great with his vocals and incredible guitar riffs and hooks. But when it came to his songs – they helped him if they felt like it. When he brought in a song to work on, a fraction of time devoted to a McCartney and Lennon track was given to those of George. As great as Lennon and McCartney were, they were simply petty and wanted to ensure they stay out in front ahead of their longtime friend and band mate – a good example of ingratitude.
Greed is another lesson that we can learn from McCartney and Lennon. For the past 50 years only McCartney and Lennon have received songwriting and publishing royalties. While the four of them split the royalties from record sales equally – only McCartney and Lennon received songwriting and publishing royalties from the songs George and Ringo made famous on the recordings. While legally they didn’t have to share these, McCartney and Lennon could have split these royalties more fairly, since a big portion of their “value” was due to the great musicianship George and Ringo contributed to the records. They didn’t because they were greedy.
Indeed, there is much to be learned from their historical legacy beyond the 27 number one hits.