I grew up in a Christian home in which secular music was generally frowned upon. Sure, there were exceptions made for some of the music from my parents’ era (and that could certainly have been questionable), but no modern music was typically allowed. So my musical world was mostly limited to church music and contemporary Christian music. I grew up listening to Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, 4 Him and Carman, Degarmo & Key and Geoff Moore & the Distance. When we got really crazy, we’d break out some Whiteheart or Petra. Then, in the 90’s, I discovered Christian alternative and its various subgenres, so my playlist shifted to DC Talk, Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, and The Supertones.
I did start listening to more secular and mainstream music around the time I was able to start driving on my own, and I was thrilled with the likes of Gin Blossoms, Cranberries, Ben Folds Five, and Nirvana. (Oh, and Weird Al–he’s been a constant throughout my life.) Top-40 radio, basically. Not much in the way of classic stuff.
It wasn’t really until college that I went back and really listened to The Beatles. I had heard a song here or there, but I never really *got* it. (I actually have a specific memory from grade school of a friend having an electric keyboard with the melody of “Yesterday” pre-programmed in it, and I listened to it with zero understanding of what the song really was.) But once I dove in, something in it just clicked with me.
I would joke (overly dramatically) that listening to the Beatles for the first time in earnest was like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy opens the door and the frame flips from black and white to color. While my musical experience was not so bleak as all that (I still listen to 90’s Christian and mainstream alt-rock fairly regularly), the addition of The Beatles kicked in some Technicolor richness to my sonic world.
I’m not as into their later psychedelic and Eastern mysticism stuff as I am the earlier records, though I can definitely appreciate the artistry. But there’s just something about the vibe of their music that makes me happy. Instant serotonin boost.
(If you appreciate the Beatles at all, and you haven’t yet seen the Peter Jackson documentary series Get Back, you really should check it out. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the band’s interpersonal dynamics and creative process.)
So, while it may seem oddly specific, I’m thankful for The Beatles. I like their music. It makes me smile.
This post was prompted by a video I found this week (thanks, YT algo). Here’s a delightful take on the Abbey Road medley, performed by The Sheffield Beatles Project.