Why are the Beatles so popular 50 years on?

beatlesThe 60’s inBritainwas a period of transition from the rationing and austerity still lingering from the war. It was a time of Cultural Revolution in attitudes and ideas, releasing a powerful new wave of creative inspiration previously restricted through the rigidity of the class system and an individual’s social standing. Every revolution has its leaders who lead by example to provide the resolve and inspiration to the masses. The period of the 1960s was as politically dramatic as it was creatively innovative, with the assassination of J.F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the escalation of the war inVietnam. These global events were the backdrop to a resurgence of an artistic and social renaissance occurring inLondon,England– the epicentre of the swinging 60’s.

The Beatles epitomised the possibilities of the age as working class boys who, with talent and hard graft, had become the most famous people on earth and literally had the world at their feet. With a little luck, others with youth on their side could replicate their success in some creative outlet and achieve what was unthinkable to the previous generation. Initially the Beatles’ appeal was not so much spearheading the Mersey Sound, characterised by their early records: it was more their very ordinariness, which magnified their presence against the dreariness and greyness of post war Britain.

The Beatles shimmered with the golden aura of the times. Anything now seemed possible in the heady atmosphere of free love and the further distancing from the shackles of the ‘old guard’. The ‘Fab Four’ were the high priests of the new movement who, attuned to the creative pulse of the moment, produced with each successive album an amazing living soundtrack to an extraordinary period of national regeneration. The Beatles provided a sonic mirror as a reflection for the masses. They were able to create, through a mixture of raw talent and mystical alchemy, the most pure expression of the popular song that defined the immediacy and artistic excellence of the times. They also instigated cultural changes in fashion and later opened the floodgates to eastern spirituality through transcendental meditation. 

The Beatles endure as giants of the entertainment industry and the most influential band in history. Their story from humble origins to global superstars is the stuff of dreams, and represents the hope of the masses. Like a great magnet, the Beatles attract the attention and fascination of each successive generation which recognises the freshness and creative genius of the group. Yet it’s not just the songs, some of which are peerless in the pantheon of modern music, that are the reason why the Beatles remain so popular after fifty years. There’s a deeper and more esoteric reality that ensures the continuing popularity of the band.

As a consequence of the focus and attention of billions of people on the Beatles since they first appeared on the world’s stage in 1963, a psychic presence has been established that is energetically stored within the human psyche: a vast backlog of past experience generated by the interest and adulation of the band from fans around the world. This prepares the induction for anyone who hears a Beatles tune, perhaps for the first time, to immediately connect and be profoundly influenced. It also accounts for the changing fashions and the popularity of celebrities, people and even ideas, some of which endure or disappear through lack of acknowledgment and disinterest. Just like Elvis and Michael Jackson, the Beatles will undoubtedly live on as a psychic projection and maintain worldly immortality so long as there are people who ‘dig’ great rock music. Their songs and the music preserve the shifting values of an extraordinary period of human evolution – but ultimately implode as the love they made reached its limit and the band could take no more.

Lance Kelly 2012