How To Become A Beatles Fan

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Beatles fan. That’s a fairly safe bet, since roughly 95% of the internet-savvy, English-speaking, carbon-based demographic is, to some degree, fond of The Beatles. They may be the closest thing there is to a universal in the ludicrously fractured and argumentative world of popular music. But did you ever stop to think how you became a Beatles fan? No one is born with an encyclopedic knowledge of Magical Mystery Tour lyrics, and all the cheesy Beatles Hits for Kids albums in the world can’t guarantee a lifelong love affair with the Fab Four (you don’t see many college students walking around in Raffi or The Wiggles t-shirts, do you?). No, like most things in life, becoming a Beatles fan is a process. The experience varies with the individual, but here’s a broad overview of this fascinating rite of passage.

Cognizance

It’s difficult to imagine anyone who came of age after 1970 actually “discovering” The Beatles. They’ve been such an integral part of most English-speaking cultures for so many years that for most people, trying to remember hearing their first Beatles song would be like recalling the first time they rode in a car or tasted chocolate. But there is a point in every young Beatles fan’s life when you become aware that all those great songs that keep coming up in TV commercials and on the radio are by the same group, and that that group is The Beatles. This is the stage where you start to really dig all of the big hits, from the youthful abandon of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “Twist and Shout” to the deeper later meditations of “Hey Jude” and “Let it Be.” Hugely popular greatest hits albums like One, 1962-66 and 1967-70 are key to this stage. Yes, they only offer a cursory glance at the massive scope of Beatality, but everyone needs an entry point.

Exploration

The next stage will start to reveal just what kind of Beatles fan you are. As you learn more about the band’s history and start to examine their albums in their entirety, certain patterns and preferences will emerge. You may find yourself most turned on by the punky energy of early albums like Meet the Beatles or A Hard Day’s Night. You might be mesmerized by the psychedelic palate expansion of Revolver or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Maybe the messy beauty of The Beatles or Abbey Road really trips your trigger. Regardless, you’ll choose a favorite album and probably a favorite Beatle as well. Fairly or not, your picks will define you in the eyes of many more experienced Beatles fans, but there’s really no wrong answer.

Intellectualism

By this point you know the Fab Four’s collected works inside and out, so it’s time to start listening between the notes. This is where you start to develop oddball theories and take controversial stances. You may find yourself at parties spouting off things like, “If the four new songs they recorded for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack had been released as an EP, it would have been the last truly great record they put out,” or “Don’t talk to me about that hack Eric Clapton. Billy Preston was the only worthwhile non-Beatle who ever played on a Beatles track!” You’ll likely also pick a side in the great John vs. Paul debate, cook up your own notions about the “Paul is Dead” scandal and compose an elaborate, multi-point defense of Ringo’s drumming ability. In short, you will be insufferable.

Rejection

Recoiling at all that is mainstream is a curious rite of passage for the American hipster music geek. For all The Beatles’ ground-breaking, few artists have been more thoroughly embraced by the hoi polloi. The day the captain of the cheerleading squad shows up for school in a Target-bought Abbey Road tee is a heartbreaking moment for any misfit music nerd. Somewhere around college age, many former fanatics go so far as to turn their backs on The Beatles for purely contrarian reasons. Often, this goes hand-in-hand with exposure to a wider range of music. Digging into, say, The Kinks for the first time is a mind-blowing experience for sure. It’s easy for a budding elitist to get caught up in the newness of it all. Throw in the fact that you never saw the asshole jocks from high school rocking Village Green Preservation Society t-shirts, and it becomes just that much easier to dismiss The Beatles as mass-market crap unworthy of mention in the same breath as the Davies brothers.

Rediscovery

After a few years of denying the Liverpudlians Apostle Peter-style, many music lovers find themselves ready to return to the fold. This may involve an unexpected trigger, like hearing a half-forgotten deep cut like “For No One” on the radio, or your MP3 player calling up one of your old favorites on shuffle. Once that gate is reopened, there’s little that can keep the floodwaters back. Soon enough, you’re right back to listening to all of the albums back to back and mixing up all-Beatles playlists for every occasion.

Acceptance

This stage tends to coincide with the onset of maturity. This is where you start to understand that it’s all right to love The Beatles’ music without going overboard. You can still bang your head to “Helter Skelter” without being legally obligated to enjoy whatever half-assed Beatles tribute Julie Taymor or Cirque du Soleil have cooked up this month. You can still adore The Kinks, The Stones and/or The Who as much as or even more than The Beatles. Heck, you can even stand by your misguided insistence that The Monkees were students who surpassed their teachers, or that Status Quo could have eclipsed the Fab Four if American radio stations had only given them a break. Once you’ve realized that it’s cool to set aside mindless fanaticism and dig the group on your own terms without giving a damn who else does, you’re ready to emerge as a fully-formed Beatles fan. It’s a tougher task than it might seem at first glance, but in the long run it’s a pretty good thing to be.

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I knew a guy who didn't like the Beatles. he listened to a lot of pigface.

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