Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Final Beatles Discussion
We are done with the book, and made it through basically all of the studio albums. All they have left are group projects, which I'll leave for another post. Having trudged through the depressing Beatles breakup the last week, and playing students the earliest solo work of each Beatle, my question for the class was a simple one: Is there a lesson to be learned from the band's demise? A pitfall to be avoided?

And the related follow-ups: did the breakup of the Beatles really cut short a musical career? Or is their ouevre complete? Could the end of the Beatles have been as much an artistic, musical reality as it was the result of personality conflicts and business troubles? Supposing the pitfalls had been avoided, or overcome, then what? Had they gone as far as they could as a group anyway?

On the other hand....

While it's very easy to tell the story of the Beatles' musical output with a beginning, middle and end, is there something real in that progression? Or just the tidiness of a historical perspective that knows from the beginning how the story turns out?

Earlier in the semester - can't remember if I posted about this here or not - I asked them to presume that The Beatles simply ended at that point: right after Rubber Soul, maybe deciding that with touring impossible, it wasn't worth going on. Of course, we realize now that something important would have been missing (no sgt pepper's. no revolver. no white album. no abbey road. no all you need is love.), promise would have been unfulfilled. But, what if we didn't know? Would they still have be considered great if Rubber Soul was the pinnacle of their career? More important, wouldn't historians have still offered an arc to their story? One presenting Rubber Soul as a proper, even inevitable end?

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