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Beatles music is an international phenomenon

I’ve been thinking:  what is it about Beatles music that seems to appeal to so many people of all ages around the world?

I was in Kenya a few years ago, in a taxi in Mombasa, and the 50 year old driver was humming She Loves You, with a distinctly African back beat. I asked her if she liked The Beatles and she said, “Is that a Beatles song?  I just like it.  My Mummy used to sing it to me when I was little”.

Some years later I was in India, down the southern part in Kerala.  I was staying at a beach resort, the kind you only get down there, where they mix ancient Ayurvedic healing with good food, sunny, sandy beaches and lovely, friendly local people.  I met a middle aged couple from Munich, Germany, there and after some halting and unsuccessful attempts at finding common ground for a relaxed conversation, I mentioned that I played in a Beatles tribute band.  Well, the conversational flood gates opened and we were soon comparing our favourite Beatles songs, which turned out to be the same, and became friends for life!  Crazy or what?

I stumble over Beatles fans all over the world as these two examples illustrate.  Closer to home, we played the Wroughton Carnival in June 2009, coming on as the headline act after four other rock bands.  These bands were very good and had the younger members of the audience dancing and clapping.   When we appeared it was quite different.  Everyone, about 2000 people, from little children to senior folk, crammed up to the front of the stage and were clapping and shouting even before we started playing; clearly very keen to hear what we had to offer.  As soon as we started playing, they were all up dancing and singing along, and they all had great big beaming smiles on their faces.

So, what is it about Beatles songs that appeals to so many people?  I think Beatles music has become part of the fabric of the global shared consciousness.  Put another way, Beatles music is a kind of backdrop wallpaper that hangs in the rooms of all our life experience.  We are born and our parents hum Beatles tunes.  We go to school and the teacher explains the musical merits of Sergeant Pepper. We fall in love and the strains of All I’ve Gotta Do conveying our feelings of togetherness and then with Not A Second Time betraying our feelings of loss and anger when love turns bad.  We get married to All My Loving.  We sing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to our kids (who don’t of course understand that it might actually be about an LSD trip!) and we grow old to When I’m Sixty-four. And, throughout all this time, we hear constant streams of Beatles music pouring from our radios.

Beatles music speaks to us of our life experiences and is hard wired into our minds. I for one am very happy indeed that John, Paul, George and Ringo have been and still are my companions through life.  

Roy Gaynor