Society. Essay, Research Paper
Hypothesis: “That the music of the Beatles accelerated the change of society”.
By the time the fifties was over the world was looking for a fresh new sound and look in the music industry. It came in the shape and form of four young Liverpoodlians. As John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (Richard Starky) shook their mop tops and strummed out their new style of Rock ‘n’ Roll, an entire generation stood up and took notice and knew that society would never be the same. And it wasn’t, the Beatles changed everything.
During the period of the 1960’s the super group known as the Beatles took total control of a culture, which in some ways had managed to avoid the grasp of politicians, theologians, philosophers and other pop groups. The Beatles tastes, whims, attitudes and expressions of music were quickly converted into new and fresh hairstyles, trends, clothing, behaviour, social beliefs and rock music itself. Everything you could imagine became some how related to the Beatles, Beatle boots, Beatle haircuts and Beatle slang (gear, fab) just to name a few. If the Beatles wore a particular coat or shirt, grew a moustache, openly adopted the use of drugs or questioned religion, the whole of the rock world would do the same. If they took a guru or abandoned one, gave peace a chance or even did it in the road (Abbey Road), the world of rock took notice and did the same, tried to do the same or just wanted to do the same.
The origin of the phenomenon that became the Beatles can be traced back to 1957. Paul McCartney was picked from an audition for a position in John Lennons then band “The Quarrymen”. Another member of this band was a 15-year-old guitarist, George Harrison. Within a few years, after a number of different drummers and band names, they found a full time drummer, in Ringo Starr, and a full time name with “The Beatles”.
The spelling came to John Lennon in a dream “a man in a flaming pie appeared and said you shall be Beetles with an A” he recalled. Shortly after a number one hit was released (I Want To Hold Your Hand) and a string of number one hits was to follow, 20 in all, which included: Love Me Do (1964), Ticket To Ride (1965), Help! (1965), All You Need Is Love (1967), Come Together (1969) and Let It Be (1970).
To prove my hypothesis correct I’ve read through a number of books and other texts to find out as much as possible. I’ve also spoken to many People who grew up listening to The Beatles to see what influence they had on them. I have used the Internet as much as possible, I’ve also devised a survey to give out to people of an older generation, who may have been effected by the popularity of The Beatles, music, trends and way of life. I gave out roughly a dozen surveys to people both male and female with ages that ranged from 30 to 60 plus. Of the twelve surveys I received eight back. Most surveys were completed to a good standard and they gave me a good understanding of the influence that The Beatles had on people of that time.
My hypothesis was, “That the music of the Beatles accelerated the change of society”. After going through my survey responses, the books I found whilst researching and all other information gathered I believe that The Beatles did help to accelerate the change of society.
The responses of the first question in my survey surprised me quite a bit, as only six of the eight said that The Beatles played a big part in their growing up, I was expecting a much larger number of respondents. But this small difference in opinion was not nearly enough to stop me feeling that The Beatles accelerated the change of society. This is only a very minute section of the people who grew up with the music and lifestyle of The Beatles. I could have surveyed another group who all may have said that The Beatles played a huge part in their life when growing up, it was just a group that obviously wasn’t into that kind of music and lifestyle. The general feeling with the respondents was that The Beatles helped the change in society, but they were not the only ones. This is very true, they couldn’t have done it all them selves, they had the help of many other rock bands that were from the same stable as The Beatles, as well as other outspoken and socially different groups.
As The Beatles travelled the world they met all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds, religions and forms. From these people they would pick up different habits, traits, and behaviours and replicate these things. In one town smoking marijuana was a big thing but two towns over it wasn’t heard of. The people would see The Beatles doing these things (smoking marijuana, doing acid, wearing different hair and clothes styles and expressing different attitudes) and the old saying of “monkey see, monkey do” became true to the last letter. The Beatles didn’t just change the common fans and music lovers but other bands were formed in the same vain as The Beatles, thus speeding up the rapid change in behaviour which followed their appearance.
The Beatles were seen as heroes for the majority of youths but parents had very different views on the rock phenomenon. They saw the music as evil, much the same as Elvis Preselys’ music a few years before. Parents were up in arms at the way he swivelled his hips and his other so called provocative moves, as well as his loud and raucous style of music. So when The Beatles came along it was Elvis all over again but this time on a larger scale.
Religious groups too had quite sour views towards the Fab Four especially after John’s quote “we’re more popular than Jesus Christ”. The Klu Klux Klan had made assassination threats aimed at the band; “We want to stamp out The Beatles menace” quoted a high ranked member of this organisation.
One of many record burnings by a religious group after Johns statement.
It wasn’t just The Beatles behaviour but their radical musical style changed the face of music. The use of a Sitar (a string instrument from India) on the Rubber Soul album (1965) gave it a very Eastern flavour and John Lennons magical lyrics opened up new alley ways for the group. Soon after the Byrds, Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones released albums with very similar Eastern influenced sounds. So along with social changes they also revolutionised the music world.
John Lennon was regarded as the most radical of The Beatles. He returned his Member of the British Empire, which the group received in 1965, this was in protest at the Vietnam War. It has been said “it brought a degree of social consciousness to their lyrics”
The Beatles with their MBE’s presented to them by the Queen.
So as you can see from my research and the data that I have collected I still believe that The Beatles did accelerate the change in society. Although not quite to the extent that I first believed, they still played a huge part in its change. If it wasn’t for the antics of these four talented men from Liverpool we may not have ever got away from the 50’s style of music, the likes of Frank Sinatra may well still be going strong as cocktail singers could also still be all the rage.
Who knows what life would be like if we hadn’t experienced The Beatles. Maybe it would be the same and then again maybe not. Perhaps some other group could have helped with the change. I guess we can only imagine what life would have been like with out The Beatles. One thing that I am sure of though I’m is that very glad that they did come along and do what they did to society.
· Sumrall, Harry (1994) Pioneers of rock and roll, Billboard books, New York, USA.
· Howard, John (1996) The Beatles unseen, Penguin books, London, England.
· Du Noyer, Paul (1997) We all shine on, Harper Collins Publishers, Sydney, Australia.
· Bego, Mark (1996) The rock & roll almanac, Macmillan Publishers, New York, USA.
Surveys completed by family and friends, no name will be supplied for the respondent’s sake. Thankyou to all who helped by completing a surveyJ.
John (right) and Paul (left) rocking out.