Maybe its the generation I was born into but I've never been excited about the Beatles. Yeah sure there are songs by them that I like, songs like 'She Said She Said', 'Paperback Writer', 'Eleanor Rigby' and a ton more. Still none of these songs are ever going to send shivers down my spine; take me back to times past when I first heard them; or make me sing along like a loon.
Musical taste wise I came of age in the very late seventies. My parents record collection was very small and mainly reflected a pre-Beatles world with acts such as the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley. On the radio things were less nostalgic in those days and so we were mainly concerned with the here and now.
This is not to say that I wasn't aware of the music of the Beatles. It was everywhere just as it is today. Muzak in supermarkets; pub singers on variety shows on the telly; the real thing on Jimmy Saville's Sunday lunchtime nostalgia show on radio one etc. In fact when I started taking an interest in old music the Beatles would inevitably come up in conversation or old articles. I would read about this or that mind blowing song. Only to find when I heard it for the first time that I was already familiar with it (sung by Barbara Dickson on the Two Ronnies or played by a cheesy orchestra in a jazzy upbeat style). Consequentially I found it hard to feel the excitement that others felt for this music.
Anyway the reason for bringing up the Beatles is that of course there's been another re-issue of all their albums. Once again the albums have been re-mastered. It seems to me that this takes place every two or three years. With each new edition the ultimate definitive version. How many more times can Beatles fans stand to be fleeced?
All this would be a matter of complete indifference to me if it wasn't for the fact that every major musical magazine in the UK turns over half their publication to provide a load of free publicity to the Apple record corporation not so cleverly disguised as yet more articles on the Beatles. I expect this from the nostalgia porn magazines such as Mojo and Uncut (every other issue has to have a front cover featuring sixties icons (preferably Dylan or the Beatles) or yet new revelations from the punk era (always the Clash or the Pistols)). I was more surprised to see that the NME had managed to stop itself from rotating Oasis, Arctic Monkeys & Pete Doherty long enough to cover this event. Most disappointing was that Word Magazine, from whom I expect a bit more, choose to join in as well.
Still we seem to be going nostalgia mad in the world of music. Every band in the world seems to be reforming at the moment. Personally I'm not interested in seeing the Specials, the Pixies or Blur. I can, however, understand the pull of seeing these bands in the flesh given that they've made some great records in their time. However what possesses people to pay to see Shed Seven or Ned's Atomic Dustbin?
I'm genuinely puzzled about all this celebration of music past. Don't people ever get bored of listening to those old songs? I love a million old songs from 'New Rose' to 'Heartbreak Hotel'; 'Good Vibrations' and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. But listening to familiar songs is always an act with diminishing returns. Every time you hear that tune you are further from the excitement that you felt when it was new and shiny and on repeat in your head sound tracking your life.
Also I know with the modern technology available that these bands can probably produce a better sound live today than in their prime. But if you want the songs in their pristine form well surely that's the point of records. When I go to see a band live I want to see something a bit different. Intimacy, between songs banter, re-imagined versions; screw ups and the feeling of been at an event are what I'm looking for. Have you ever seen the video of Mike Scott performing 'Whole of the Moon' on a piano in a school in Ireland? Its a million miles from the polished epic beauty of the single and all the better for it.
Click on this picture for the aforementioned Mike Scott video
Where's the fun in standing in your local O2 Academy or BT arena surrounded by thousands of people doing a karaoke version of your favourite song; bellowing down their mobile phone to their mate about how brilliant it is whilst chucking their half empty plastic glass full of some generic piss poor lager up in the air.
When you were fourteen you didn't just listen to the songs you already knew. You didn't just listen to stuff that you heard on the radio. You weren't only interested in bands that sounded like other bands that you already like.
So ok you're older now and more things are going on your life. Still there's got to be time for small pleasures and enjoying yourself. Taking a chance and trying something new. Get your local gig guide out and look up some names of people playing grotty bars and pubs. Google the artist and go and listen to some stuff on-line. If it sounds good get out there and go to the gig. If you enjoy the gig tell the artist and buy their cd (if they have one). You'll feel good and so will they. Then repeat until you find yourself enjoying yourself or until you decide that you hate music and go back to watching the X factor.