The Beatles

In April 1973, Apple Records released two double albums (eight sides in all) containing fifty-four songs that had been recorded and released by the Beatles between 1962 and 1970. Officially named The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970, the recordings quickly became known as “The Red Album” and “The Blue Album” because of the color of the album covers. (A double album of new material from the Beatles, released in November 1968, had been named The Beatles but is usually called “The White Album.”)

Other compilations of Beatle music had been released before 1973 and have been released since 1973, but for many Beatles fans the Red Album and Blue Album are the definitive collection of Beatle songs. Fans can easily debate the selections. I, for example, would have included “If I Fell,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Here, There, and Everywhere,” “I Will,” and “Sexy Sadie,” among others.  With the coming and going of compact discs and the current availability of digital recordings, the red and blue albums are likely irrelevant to newer fans of the Beatles. But in the history of Beatle fandom, those albums have an important place.

A few days ago I tested my memory to see if I could recall all fifty-four songs included on the red and blue albums, as well as the order in which they appeared. Some sides I remembered easily; others were dimmer in my memory. Finally I had to pull them out of my collection and fill the gaps. (Yes, I still have my vinyl albums that I bought in the Seventies and Eighties.)  Interestingly (to me if to no one else), the songs I had forgotten were largely from the Rubber Soul and Magical Mystery Tour eras. “In My Life” and “Hello, Good-bye” are both songs that I like, but for some reason I had forgotten that they are included on the Red Album and the Blue Album, respectively.

Last year’s movie Yesterday imagined a world in which the Beatles had never existed and almost no one had ever heard their music. One man could remember and reproduce the songs of the Beatles, and he introduced them into the world. At first he found it difficult to get people to listen, but eventually the songs made a big impact. The first time I saw the movie, I didn’t like how the Beatle music was scrambled together, not showing the development of their musical styles and interests. But I then realized that younger Beatle fans know the music of the Beatles exactly in that fashion—all one package, without context of years and albums and formative influences. My children grew up hearing the Beatles music at home, and they probably remember some songs by album—Abbey Road, for example, or A Hard Day’s Night. But even for them, hearing “And I Love Her” side by side with “Oh, Darling” would probably not strike them as essentially different songs—just two of the many great songs written and recorded by the Beatles. J.

5 thoughts on “The Beatles

  1. I had watched their movies as a young child, and thought they were really cool. It wasn’t until around the time that John died that I got into them. Later still until I realized how fun and creative they were. At one point I had all the albums except for the red and blue, and white albums. Lennon and McCartney though, struck me as the ideal brotherly relationship. Without the other, I doubt that either one could have made it. When I think about it, their relationship mirrors ours in the Christian community. We really can’t do anything without one another. Yet, we often have disagreements and separations.

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    • I agree. The Lennon-McCartney partnership accomplished far more than the two would have done as solo artists. I was in high school during the disco-heavy metal debate, and I found the Beatles vastly superior to both genres. J.

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  2. In 1965 the Beatles came to Atlanta and my Grandfather took all the grandkids. With me being the youngest, I can remember my mom wasn’t keen on me going to something that would keep out and up late— so I promised I wouldn’t even yawn. I vaguely remember the Supremes coming out first then the rest of the night I just remember trying so hard not to yawn so no one wold know I was sleepy ☺️thank you for bringing back my happy memory!

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      • PBS recently aired a tribute to George– that was recorded the year following his death—so it was obviously an almost 18 year old show—but I loved it none the less—his teenage son was playing on stage and looked like a young George. Paul even noted that it was if George had missed the whole aging process as the boy stood next to both Paul and Ringo.

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