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Headscratchers: The Beatles
See also: Headscratchers.John Lennon.

  • Why do the Beatles spend a good 4 minutes at the end of "Hey Jude" singing "Nah, nah-nah, na-na-na-nah, na-na-na-nah, heyyy Juuuuuuuude" over and over? (And over and over and over and over...)
    • Reportedly it wasn't supposed to last that long, but they just kind of got into a thing and kept going.
  • Why does it say, on at least two different pages of this wiki, that "Please Please Me is about oral sex"? This is far from being the only example here of the common error of presenting hypothesis as if it were proven fact, but it's the one that annoys me the most. According to one poster on the InkTank forums, this decidedly non-canonical idea comes from one music critic who's notoriously filthy-minded (not just for this idea alone, either), hence is not the best of sources.
    • Well, I find it hard to deny that they intended sexual overtones to be read into the song—at the very least as double entendre—but nothing as specific as oral sex. Remember: the thing about Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory is that it makes people feel smart about themselves, and since most people are dumb and perhaps recognize it on some level, that's a common need.
      • Namely Robert Christgau of the Village Voice. I don't have the reference at hand but I recall Paul being asked about this in an interview and saying that it seemed like a bit of a stretch. If there was some evidence that "please" had some special connotation related to oral sex — the song, at least, seems to be soliciting some kind of reciprocal sexual favour — that might be convincing, but nothing seems to present itself.
  • This is more of a "it makes me curious" than something that annoys me, but I wonder what Yoko Ono, being Japanese, thought of Ringo's stage name, especially given that the Beatles are connected to Apple Corps. Ringo means apple in Japanese, and while I've read that Ringo's name came from wearing rings, it's just an interesting coincidence, especially considering there was someone at least of Japanese descent involved with the band.
    • It is worthy to remember that by the time she and John first met, she had already spent many years living in the US and was a fluent English speaker (which might have made her aware of the 'ring', not 'apple' origin), plus the Beatles were already famous, by then Yoko must have already been aware that Ringo was not one of the creatives in the band and finally, that was in 1966, long before Apple Corps was started (thus there was no reason to think apples were important for the Beatles back then) so I believe she thought the same as you: "it's just a curious coincidence".
  • The entire point of Michelle is that the singer has "fallen in love" with a French girl, and can't tell her because he doesn't speak French. If you can't carry on a conversation with the object of your affections, it's probably not real love.
    • According to That Other Wiki the song is meant to be a parody of the French style of music. It's not serious.
    • And if it was serious, it could get handwaved as Love at First Sight or something similar.
    • One of the beautiful things about Paul's songwriting is that lyrics were often an afterthought. (John usually did just the opposite, explaining his sometimes musically underwhelming songs with deep, emotional lyrics vs. Paul's beautifully melodic Silly Love Songs.) This was just the case with "Michelle": it started out as an instrumental done In The Style Of Chet Atkins and the Love at First Sight lyrics came later. So the lyrics aren't really even that relevant; they just served to turn a wordless Chet Atkins parody into a lovely imitation of the French ballad. It is a pop song after all.
  • The song Day Tripper. Okay, so she's a day tripper, right? That means she goes somewhere for the day and then comes back... so what on earth is she doing with a ONE WAY TICKET?
    • A "day tripper", in slang, is a person who uses hallucinogens constantly, so that it is more or less an all-day-every-day thing. What a "Sunday driver" is, on the other hand, I really don't know....
      • No, it's someone who uses drugs occasionally but isn't a real hippy, just a poser.
      • "Sunday driver" is a colloquial term for sluggish drivers, implying that they treat all of their drives like leisurely weekend sightseeing excursions.
      • "She only played one-night stands"—that's clear enough. Listen to Mae West's cover, if you still don't get it.
      • What about the "easy Way Out" part?
      • Not mention "She's a big teaser," which stands in for "prick teaser."
  • I don't see how Got To Get You Into My Life can be anything other than a typical Silly Love Song. Even though Paul confirmed it was about pot, it doesn't make sence to me. Again, I've never done drugs, so maybe I just don't see it.
    • To just do a quick breakdown of some of the lyrics: "I was alone/I took a ride/I didn't know what I would find there" ~ The singer first experiments with drugs. "Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there" ~ It's common after drug experiences to feel like you're no longer the same person you were before taking drugs. "Then I suddenly see you/did I tell you I need you/Every single day of my life?" ~ The singer does drugs, enjoys the high, develops a craving for it. And so on.
      • It could just as eaisly be about going to new places and meeting someone unexpectantly, then typical silly love at first sight. There's no overt drug references.
      • This is what has been called double-coding; it is open to multiple readings and serves different audiences in different ways. Plenty of drug-influenced Beatles songs play this way: "Lucy in the Sky" perhaps most obviously (initials aside, it was conceived as an articulation of psychedelic mind expansion), "Yellow Submarine," etc. Even the phrase "turn me on" turns up in several Beatles songs like "A Day in the Life" and "She's a Woman" — to the uninitiated it would seem pretty benign, but to those hip to it, it was a winking reference to drug lingo.
      • Plus, it was the 1960s — people were a lot less open about drugs than they are now, so the only way you could write a song about drugs and still get it recorded and played on the radio was to be subtle about it. Just because the references are veiled doesn't mean they're not there.
  • Is it just me, or did John Lennon's solo career decline really hard?
    • A lot of the Beatles made sort of "filler songs" during all of their solo careers. One could say it's because they're so passionate about music just making nonsense is good for them. One could call it lazy money-grabbing (this troper prefers the former, seeing as being a Beatle gives you enough money for various swimming pools filled with cash by itself). I mean, Paul wasn't exactly all creativity.
    • Yeah, the Beatles were never quite as brilliant in their solo careers as they were as a band ... but even when they were together, Beatles lyrics were often pretty simple ("She's So Heavy," for instance), which isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes, Less Is More.
    • It's not just you. The real reason they were never as good as solo musicians is that they weren't around for each other. Paul wasn't there to polish John's music and throw in effortlessly brilliant solutions to knotty problems, John wasn't there to keep Paul real, the others weren't there to make George and Ringo's songs sound better and the band wasn't there to remind them all of where they came from. The only person who could tell a Beatle that something isn't good enough and needed more work is...another Beatle. Preferably all three of them.
    • By contrast, take a look at what happened when George finally started a new band (The Traveling Wilburys) with no less than Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne (all using an alias). The result was a great album. On the other hand, Paul's work kinda went south when he left Wings (which was at-least supposed to resemble a regular band) and for a while, his only real hits came when he worked with other artists (Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson).
  • Before John's murder, he, Paul, and George occasionally joked in interviews about a reunion. Even given that they were joking, would a genuine reunion have been likely if John hadn't been killed?
    • To be honest, I get the feeling that a Beatles reunion would have always been a long-shot even if Mark David Chapman hadn't decided to intervene. They may have 'teased and made jokes' about it, but Lennon at least always seemed to be fairly clear that he had little interest in it. Maybe something along the lines of the Anthology, but that would have been it, I personally think.
      • John, George, and Paul had patched up their differences by that time. There was ample evidence to show the Beatles were on the way to reunion before yet another huge fan of Catcher in the Rye decided to murder someone.
      • Maybe—but even at best, there's a huge gap from "on speaking terms again" to "getting the old band back together and touring." Considering how quick the ex-Beatles all were to describe the chances of a reunion as slim to nil, the evidence doesn't seem that ample''.
      • Peter Doggett's You Never Give Me Your Money makes it clear that in 1980, discussions about a reunion concert were ongoing ... possibly in Central Park.
      • If they had gotten back together, I expect that it would have been for a one-shot deal, likely for charity. My best friend has always felt they would have gotten together for Live Aid, which seems a reasonable thought.
      • For what it's worth, when Lorne Michaels offered a Comically Small Bribe on Saturday Night Live for the Beatles to come down to the studio and play, John and Paul (who were both in New York) got on the phone with each other about going to get it. They ultimately didn't, but were legitimately willing to do it.
      • It's actually even more frustrating than that. Both of them were sitting in John's apartment not far away, watching the show. They only reason they didn't go is that they were both too tired.
      • There's a short story on the Internet somewhere about an alternate timeline caused by Ringo, who goes back in time and buys them coffee.
      • "You can divide it up any way you want—if you want to give Ringo less, that's up to you."
    • One possible interpretation might be that Lennon was simply uninterested in anything too similar to living life as a jetsetting rock star. Perhaps he felt he didn't want to go through "the lost weekend" again, and wanted a stable, normal-ish family life and to be there for Yoko or Sean. He felt bad about his mistakes and didn't want to go back. He might have enjoyed his freedom in not surrendering to a group vote, too.
  • It seems like the re-releases in 2009 didn't fix the problem that the singing only comes from one side. No matter what version I find, The song Norwegian Wood always has the singing come from one side, as do many of their other songs. Hey, record companies, we have the technology to fix this, so use it!
    • If you hear the mono version of Norwegian Wood it doesn't.
    • There is a reason for this. A lot of early stereo mixes were made from the instrumental and vocal track used as either channel, since actual recording in stereo didn't exist yet. They were effectively two mono tracks panned to either channel. By the late 60s, they had finally developed the technology to record in real stereo. Notably, George Martin did fix some of the original stereo mixes of Help and Rubber Soul in 1987, and then used them again on the 2009 stereo remasters, which annoyed purists. The original stereo mixes of the two can be found as bonus tracks tacked onto the end of the mono versions of their respective discs in the mono box.
    • Hey, I think the whole point in these songs was Gratuitous Panning. Though I agree that in songs like Norwegian Wood and Yellow Submarine, it was irritating.
      • Perhaps that was the point, but it's still annoying nonetheless. I have sensitive ears, especially for that kind of thing, and so hearing them out of one ear only almost ruins those songs for me.
    • Personal opinion: Please Please Me to The White Album were all Mono, and I plan to listen to them Mono. I get that some people like listening to music in Stereo instead, but I feel like they made it one way, I'll listen to it that way. I do agree that they should have at least tried to utilize the technology they have to finally make real stereo versions, but it's no skin off my nose that they didn't.
    • It was never a "problem" and never needed "fixing." In the 60's, all the Beatles really cared about mastering was the mono mixes, as that's what would get played on the radio. Stereo mixing was left for studio engineers to do, and since they needed to "show off" stereo, they heavily separated the vocals from the music. If it bothers you that much, buy the Beatles in Mono box set. The few albums not included because they were never mastered in mono have stereo panned properly.
  • I love the Beatles, but is it just me or were they kind-of mediocre as a live band? I mean, even the best footage of them wasn't exactly transendental. Plus, even they themselves have derided their own equipment claiming they couldn't hear each other and in some cases, were playing different songs? They didn't move around much either. Today, Sir Paul has enough gear that everyone in the arena can hear him and there's plenty of film clips being shown on huge-@$$ screens to keep everyone entertained; but if you bought a ticket to see the Beatles back in the mid-sixties, wouldn't you feel a bit ripped-off?
    • On the evidence, it does seem that, yeah, many of their live gigs would have sucked ass. To be fair, however, a lot of these criticisms can be put down to the fact that it was The Sixties and they were pioneering a lot of this stuff in the first place. When they started gigging, smaller venues were the standard, so there wouldn't have been as much need for powerful speakers or a lot of room to really move about (although Brian Epstein did reportedly tame their live act down a lot when he signed on as the manager; they were reportedly a lot more active and rowdy on stage before he came along). It was The Beatles themselves who did the first major stadium gig (Shea Stadium in 1965), and presumably a lot of the things that work to iron out most of these problems — screens so that everyone can see, speakers powerful enough that everyone can hear without completely deafening the performers, the idea that you don't need to stay still so everyone can see you, things to entertain the audience — hadn't been ironed out yet. Plus, for the not being able to hear themselves and the problems that caused, that was in large part because the audience was mainly more interested in screaming loudly at them rather than listening to the music, which was why the band couldn't even hear what they were playing — so if they weren't satisfied it's kind of their own fault in the first place (and presumably the ones who went just to see their favourite Beatle and scream at them would have considered it money well spent).
      • Yeah, this was a basic problem of large gigs for everyone at the time; the technology to make the band heard (let alone seen - big screens didn't become commonplace until the 90s) by both the audience and the band themselves simply wasn't there yet. There's a very telling moment at the start of Monterey Pop, the first major festival that tried to take sound seriously, where David Crosby is soundchecking and blurts out "I can hear myself!" in complete surprise; most of the bands playing live at the time to more than a few hundred people were, quite simply, flying deaf.
    • The Beatles were reportedly pretty wild when they were performing live in Hamburg (nailing condoms to the wall of the club, drinking on stage, that kind of thing), but that went the same way as the leather jackets and messy hair with the onset of Beatlemania. They were being marketed to suburban teenagers and nobody on the business side of things wanted to scare their parents off.
    • This troper's mother saw the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania, and she has no idea whether they were any good because all she could hear was the screaming. They stopped playing live because they couldn't hear themselves anymore. Some live recordings and footage show that they could be amazing, such as the Washington Coliseum show in 1964, on their first US trip. We need to remember the Seinfeld Is Unfunny rule: in the context of their time, the early Beatles were pretty much the hardest rocking band in the universe. Lemmy from Motorhead used to go and see them in the Cavern as a teenager, and he still calls them "the best band ever on the earth", for what that's worth.
  • Why does everyone say that Ringo is the least popular Beatle? From what I see, he gets so much attention for being the sad little Woobie on the drums. If anyone, it's George who no one remembers.
    • Maybe way back when the group was together that was the case. Modern day fans, however, seem to focus more on the musicianship and songwriting of the individual members, and the fact is that Ringo wrote too few songs (three in total, if I recall correctly, one of which was penned with John or Paul's help and another rumored to have been more or less completely rewritten by George) during his time with The Beatles to be much more than a blip on the radar. Meanwhile, "Here Comes the Sun", "Taxman", "Something", and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" are generally regarded as some of The Beatles' best songs, and all of them were written by George (who also has the perpetually popular solo album All Things Must Pass going for him). I'll say this, though, Ringo's still the best actor out of all of 'em.
    • Nobody respects the drummer. This troper has read an essay by an American drummer and musicologist which describes Ringo's technique in detail, noting that although Ringo couldn't play fast, that's about the only thing he couldn't do. Multiple time signatures in the same song? Check. Genre pastiche? Check. Tempo control? Steadiest drummer ever. Timbre control? Ringo was perhaps the greatest master of it in rock: other drummers have one sound, he had a different one for each song. Individual style? His fills are inimitable. But Lennon's cruel quip about Ringo not even being the best drummer in the Beatles still gets repeated as if it were true...
    • Back when the Beatles first hit it big, Ringo was the Face of the Band. People who couldn't tell one from the other knew him - with his distinctive nose, handfuls of rings, and his curious name he stood out. Then, with A Hard Days Night, which defined their personalities to the public, he came across as the most accessible one, someone you could see having some laughs over a beer with.
  • Why were the Beatles so family-friendly compared to their contemporaries? The rest of the Big Four were singing tons of songs with dirty, nasty subjects, while the Fabs almost never went out of family friendly territory. They did every so often (See: "Please Please Me", "I've Got A Feeling", "Piggies", "Getting Better") but still, it's strange to me.
    • The same reason why once they became visible, Brian Epstein had them dress in suits rather than the leather jackets they wore in Germany — a branding that positioned them as wholesome and upright. The Rolling Stones, etc., came later and went with raunchier material in part to distinguish themselves from the Beatles. That being said, some of the Beatles' material is less than family friendly: "I Am the Walrus," "A Day in the Life," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Back in the USSR," "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," "Run for Your Life" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko" were all banned from the radio in either the US or the UK for one reason or another (but usually to do with drugs or politics, rather than sex).
    • It's what made them stand out, compared to their peers. Other rock & rollers only appealed to teenagers but the Beatles appealed to everyone: they were sexy and cool enough to drive girls wild (Lennon deliberately left his tie half-undone for that reason) but they were also funny and smart enough to intrigue adults and make them laugh. The Stones just repeated the usual rock & roll rebel pose; the Beatles lampshaded their own celebrity and that's why the media, and adults in general, found them so fascinating. And little kids liked them because they smiled a lot. (Until 1966, anyway.) Also, they didn't seem quite so family-friendly at the time; many adults found them threatening, until other bands came along who seemed even more so. Finally, remember that the Beatles' image was at odds with the reality. When American journalist Michael Braun published a 1964 book ("Love Me, Do!": The Beatles' Progress) in which he truthfully reported them as swearing (Paul, of all people, drops a Precision F-Strike) and guzzling scotch and chatting up girls, many fans refused to believe it could be true.
    • A lot of the songs were less family-friendly than you might think; The Beatles were also quite fond of Double Entrendre and Getting Crap Past the Radar. Sometimes having a wholesome and family-friendly image means you can be very sneaky in getting people to listen to stuff they'd automatically reject from someone who's a bit more upfront in being raunchy. Plus, let's be fair — the fact that a lot of their songs are a bit more accessible and family friendly doesn't stop them from being amazing songs regardless. In fact, one could reasonably make the argument that this is, in part, why they're so amazing; it's surprisingly easy to write a 'great' song when only a handful of people need to think it's great in order to qualify. There can be a lot of pretentiousness and snobbery circulating in rock music circles about being 'authentic'.
  • Does anyone else not get why people say they sing with American accents? I'm an American, and they sound English to me.

BananaramaHeadscratchers/MusicJohn Lennon

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