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Kathryn Respicio

Professor Lloyd
History 30, Section 101
The Beatles Liberation
VeryfewbandshavereachedthelastingrecognitiontheBeatleshave.Despitebreaking
upattheendofthesixties,theirmusiccontinuestoreachnewaudiencesandinspireyounger
generations.TheBeatlesweremorethanjustapop/rocknrollband.Inthesixties,they
helmedarevolutionespeciallyatatimeofpoliticalunrestandsocialreform.Beyondtheir
musicaltalents,theBeatlestriggered[largerculturalforces]andenabledthemtomaketheir
mark(Stark2).
OneofthemanyculturalparadigmstheBeatlesinspiredwasatechnologicalculture.
EventhoughtheBeatleshadproventobepopularwithintheearlysixties,theycameintotheir
ownasthedecadewenton.Whatwasinterestingabouttheprogressionoftheirtalentwasthatby
thelatesummerof65,theytentativelydecidedthattheyhadtostoptouring(181).Theband
hadbeensellingsoldoutvenueseversincetheirfirstappearanceonTheEdSullivanShow.No
onecouldimaginewhyagroupattheheightoftheircareerwoulddecidetostopperforminglive.
However,thisdecisiongavethegroupinnovativewaystocreatemusic.Theywereoneofthe
firstbandstoutilizetherecordingstudioinacreativeway.Theyusedthestudioasaquestfor
theillusionofreality,bybringingitintothelivingroomthesensationofbeinginaconcerthall
(182).ThisallowedtheBeatlestoconnectwiththeiraudiencesattheconvenienceoftheirown
home.Moreimportant,thisgavetheBeatlesthemusicalfreedomtheydesiredasartists.
Thisinnovationwasfirstacknowledgedonthealbum,Revolver.Withthehelpofa
studio,thebandwasabletocreatesoundsthroughdifferentcombinationsofinstruments,
loopingofvoices,andthespeeding/slowingdownthetrack.Manycriticsconsideredittobe
analbumcreatedbyartists(185)withstylesthatwerepreviouslyunseenbypastrockn

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rollartists.Theyinspiredawholenewgenerationofartists,whileincreasingtheintelligence,
politicalradicalizationsandmaturinginspirationsbehindrockmusic.
TheintroductionoftheBeatlesmanifestedaculturalphenomenon.Whiletheband
struggledtomakeittothetopwiththeirfirstappearancesinHamburgandtheCasbahClubin
Liverpoolitwasapparentthattheyhadastylealltheirown.TheBeatlescameatatimewhen
theBritishInvasionwasmoreimportantasanevent,thanasmusic(156).Theywere
influencedbytheEuropeanfadsandattitudesthatmarkedaseparateculturalphenomenonin
Europe.Opensexuality(homosexualityandopenattitudesaboutsex),fashiontrends,personal
appearances(cleanhaircutsversuslonghair)andcynicalhumorhelpedsettheBeatlesapart
fromothermusicalartistsatthetime.Itwastheircharmandculturethatfascinatedproducers
andthepress.Eventhoughtheirearlypopmusicgenericatbesthadcapturedyoung
audiences,spectatorsweremoreexcitedtoseewhatwittycommentsthegroupwouldmake
duringpressconferences.TheBeatleswereatthetopofBritishcurrency,showcasingtheir
BritishfadsandattitudestoAmericanaudiences.
SimilartoBobDylan,theBeatlesweretheheartbeatoftheyounggenerationofthe
sixties.Theycreatedanimageinthepublicmind(159)throughthedifferentcombinationsof
media.Withrecords,television,radiosandmerchandise,theBeatlessparkedanothercultural
paradigmtheBeatlesasawayoflife(156).Thiswasespeciallyevidentintheirfirstfilm,A
HardDaysNight(1964).ThefilmgivesafictitiousaccountofadayinthelifewithBeatles.
Theyadlibbedtheirlinesinthefilmespeciallyinaparticularscenewheretheyare
interviewedbythepress.ThegroupssensibilityandwitwascapturedthroughdirectorRichard
LestersuseofNewWaveandgrainykitchentechniquescreatingbitsofsurrealism(162).

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Whatwasmostimportantaboutthisfilmwasthatinsteadofplayingromanticizedheroes,they
playedthemselves.Throughthefilm,theywereabletodefinetheiressenceforaudiencesfar
morecompletelythattheycouldinsongsorpressconferences(160).Thisfreedomof
expressionstruckachordwithyoungeraudiencesintheU.S.Itwaslikeamodern,Bohemian
culturesparkingteenagerebellion.AudiencesidentifiedwiththeBeatlesinthattheybelieved
theycouldbewhoevertheywantedtobe.Aspoliticalunrestescalated,themodernBohemian
culturewasfurthercementedinmoreseriousandartisticcritique(s)ofsociety(162).Withthe
Beatlesatthehelmofthisculture,theysparkedaculturalforcethatwouldcementtheirplacein
popculturehistory.
Thecountercultureofthesixtieswasadirectresponsetothepoliticaldistressesofthe
time.WithfailedpoliciesinregardstoU.S.swaronCommunismandtheescalatingstruggle
intheCivilRightsMovement,thefaithofmanyAmericansintheirsocietyscomplexwebof
culturalauthorityandpoliticallegitimacywasweakened(Farber140).TheLyndon
administrationhadbeenunclearwiththepublicandtheirsoldiersastotheirescalating
involvementinVietnam.Regardlessofthequestionsthepublicasked,theadministrationand
U.S.militarywereadamantabouttheprogressionofastable,U.SfriendlygovernmentinSouth
Vietnamandtheendofthewar.However,withanincreaseofAmericantroopsdeployedto
SouthVietnamandincreasedmediacoverage,thepressandpublicuncoveredthegovernments
manipulationbehindthewar.ThewarinVietnamwasseenasasignofthefailurein
democracy(138).Thegovernmentbecamethesystemwhichmanipulatedthepublicinorder
todirectnationalpolicyforitsownendsandforitsownbenefit.

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Thenationaldebateovertheseissuesgaveyoungpeopleareasontoquestionthe
legitimacyofwhatwasrightandwrong.Morespecifically,itallowedyoungpeopletoquestion
theconventional,conservativeAmericanlifestyletheywerebroughtupin.Toquestionpolitics
allowedforthequestioningofsex,clothing,religionanddruguse.Socialnormsrestrictedthe
freedomtoexpressonesselfandbeauthenticwiththeworld.Defyingthesesocialnormsmeant
goingagainsttheestablishmentanyauthorityfigurerepresentedinaparent,institutionorthe
government.Therejectionofsocialconformityamongthesepeoplemadethemwonderwhatit
wouldbeliketoliveinaworldinwhichpeoplecouldtrustoneanotherandinwhich
cooperationcamebeforecompetition(177).Thecounterculturewasdefinedbytheyearningfor
asenseofcommunityandoptimismtraitsthattheBeatlesembodied.
TheBeatleshelpeddefinedthisculturalparadigmthroughthreeattributes:personal
freedom,thematuringsensesensibilityofrockmusicanddruguse.Thefightforpersonal
freedomwascastthroughopenexpressionsofpersonality,dressinginunconventionalfashion
labels,creatingalingoalltheirownandbendinggenderexpressions.Butnothingsymbolized
thisfreedommorethanhair.Becauseitwaseasyandcheaptostyle,hairhadalwaysbeena
frontlinesymbolofteenagerebellion(Stark177).ThiswasexemplifiedintheBeatlehaircut.
Thestyleconsistedofahairlengththatwaslongerthantraditionalhaircuts.Adultsoften
criticizedtheBeatlesoflookinglikemopheadsandhowtheylookedmoreandrogynousthan
masculine.However,thislookinspiredyoungmentotakepartinarevolution.Inordertoreject
socialconformity,alltheyhadtodowasstopgoingtothebarber.
TheBeatleswereabletoexpressthecritiquesofsocietythroughtheirmusic.Although
theystillcreatedsongsthatromanticizedwomenanduniversallove,theyalsodevelopedmusic

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thatbecamemoreintellectualandsociallyresponsive(175)totheeventsofthetime.Dylan
andtheBeatleshavebeencreditedwiththeconvergenceoffolkandrockmusic.Rockmusic
begantoacquiremuchoftheedgeandrelevancethatfolkmusichadcarriedinAmerican
culture.TheBeatlescreatedasoundtrackfortheirgeneration.Audiencesfoundanemotional
connectionwiththemusicandconnectedittothesocialreformgoingoninthesixties.A
particularexamplewasseenatastudentprotestatUCBerkeley.InresponsetotheVietnam
War,theprotestorsbegantosingYellowSubmarine.Theysawthesongasanunexpected
symbolofourtrustinourfuture,andofourlongingforaplacefitforallofustolivein(189).
Thecommunalmessagethatweallliveinayellowsubmarineresonatedthelongingfora
communitydefinedbytrustandcooperation.Theirmaturingsensibilityasartistsandcontinual
imageasposterchildrenforthecounterculturewouldbefurtherillustratedintheirdruguse.
Thecounterculturewasheavilydefinedbytheexperimentationwithillegaldrugs.
AccreditedwritersandprofessorsexperimentedwithLSD.Theuseofmarijuana,influencedby
rocknrollmusicians,providedaheightenedsenseofawarenessandallowedthegenerationto
seektruthsinpoliticalradicalizationandsocialreform.Itencouragedtheyoungpeopleto
explorealteredstatesofconsciousnessandrealities(171).Theconsumptionanddistributionof
illegaldrugswasthefactorsinglehandedlyresponsibleforthecreationofAmericas
countercultureenclaves(Farber173).Inthesealteredstatesofconsciousness,thestateof
intoxicationallowedforpsychicexplorationofthebodyandsoul.Itreducedaggressionand
offeredacureforanxiousanddepressedminds.
FortheBeatles,marijuanaandLSDexperimentationsparkedcreativityintheirlater
music.ThisisseenintheinnovativecreationofSgt.PeppersLonelyHeartsClubBand(1967).

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Itgavethegroupanalternativeoutlookforwhichinnerfreedomwasmoreimportantthat
materialsuccess(184).Itallowedforliberationwithintheirsongwriting,emphasizingthese
alternaterealitiesandtheglorificationofdruguse.Whatcontinuestocatchaudiencesattention
withthisalbumisthequestionofwhethertheBeatlesmeanttoimplementthesethemesinthe
album,orifthesemessagescamefromtheexperienceofdrugtaking.AlthoughtheBeatlesfell
apartwiththecounterculture,theyleavealastinglegacyofuntimelymusicandrebellion.