These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternative Character Interpretation: Self-indulgent, drugged-out pop stars, or musical geniuses with gifts that could change society? Or both? Especially prevalent in the views of John, who was probably neither the saint that some of his fans would believe nor the monster that Albert Goldman wrote about in his hatchet job.
"Hey Jude", while well-known today to be written by Paul to Julian Lennon (John's son who he had with his first wife Cynthia), got lots of this in its day, with John believing the song was meant for him and even a journalist believing the song to be about herself.
The Beatles were the clean-cut boys next door, as contrasted with The Rolling Stones or The Who...except when they openly promoted drug use.
Paul was the MOR Beatle, as contrasted with John...except when he virtually invented punk on "Helter Skelter".
Ringo was the Joe Average who got lucky...except when he showcased his talent on "Rain" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".
The band were a breath of fresh air after the twee Fifties and early Sixties...except when you take into account Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rockers, and the rather twee Beatles tracks like "If I Fell" and "Goodnight".
LOVE gets this a lot, actually. There are people who refuse to listen to the Abbey Road version of "Octopus' Garden" who care deeply for the LOVE version.
Paul felt this way about his original take of "The Long and Winding Road," before Phil Spector laid a full orchestra and other effects on a simple piano ballad. He once said that Cilla Black's 1972 cover was how he'd intended it to be sung.
Paul also said he got goosebumps listening to Joe Cocker's version of "With a Little Help from My Friends" (the version that would eventually become the theme to The Wonder Years). And let's not forget Aerosmith's versions of "I'm Down" and "Come Together".
John never liked his version of "Across the Universe", and gave his approval to David Bowie's cover by playing guitar and singing backing vocals.
By giving "I Call Your Name" their full treatment, the Mamas & the Papas turned a rather forgettable early Lennon-McCartney EP track into a memorable, emotional song in its own right.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: "Revolution 9", which seriously clashes with the rest of The White Album (and the band's music in general). Lennon's decision to separate it from "Revolution 1" didn't help matters at all.
Broken Base: Experimental Rock aficionados dismiss their entire "Fab Four" era. Conversely, some fans of the earlier stuff dismiss their post-Rubber Soul output. And modern Beatles fans disagree over the merits of any work that was created after the band officially broke up — not just all the post-Beatles solo projects, but any music ever recorded by anyone at all after 1970. There are fans of nearly every genre of music out there who like The Beatles; thus, merely knowing someone likes them gives one no clue as to their taste in general.
Ringo Starr's drumming is a contentious point amongst Beatles fans. Some call him a creative drummer, others call him a terrible drummer, others find his drumming competent but boring. Some people have, however, acknowledged his competent-but-boring-ness as his greatest strength. In a band with three artists trying to go in different directions, Ringo was able to mould to their style and provide a solid backbone to whatever the other three cooked up. He allegedly mucked up two takes in all the years the band was together.
Opinion on Ringo's abilities as a drummer tends to be divided between musicians and non-musicians. Non-musicians tend to think that he was a terrible drummer; musicians tend to think otherwise.
Who remembers The Isley Brothers' version of "Twist and Shout" anymore? Hell, who even remembers the original recording by the Top Notes?
This could apply to many of the band's cover versions. It's easier to list the exceptions ("Please Mr. Postman" and "Till There Was You"; the Chuck Berry versions to a lesser extent).
"With a Little Help from my Friends" is kind of fifty-fifty. It's certainly not an obscure Beatles tune; it's one of the more prominent songs from probably their most famous album. But a lot of younger people probably only know Joe Cocker's version as the opening theme to The Wonder Years. Also, Marmalade's cover of "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," at least in some circles, as is Aerosmith's rendition of "Come Together."
For the technically-minded Beatles fans and music recording geeks, there is the handy, epic tome ''Recording The Beatles" by Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, a thoroughly exhaustive 540-page book chronicling the techniques, recording equipment, and studio-owned musical instruments used by the Beatles during the making of their music. The hardcover deluxe-edition book, available via Curvebender publishing, will set you back a good $100.00.
The coda in "Hey Jude" is a great deal longer than the song proper. God help you if you ever encounter a live performance of this song.
Ensemble Darkhorse: "Quiet Beatle" George Harrison, who was generally overshadowed by the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, released the triple album All Things Must Pass after the band broke up. To this day, it's the top selling album by any solo Beatle.
His record company was even named Dark Horse Records, after one of his albums.
Epic Riff: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", "Norwegian Wood", "Day Tripper"
Epileptic Trees: The "Paul Is Dead" theory, that Paul died in the early-to-mid sixties and was replaced by a look-and-sound-alike named Billy Campbell.
John saying "Shoot Me" over and over again in "Come Together".
John singing "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is kinda creepy too.
Even creepier - If you look in the booklet included in the Magical Mystery Tour album, there is a picture of John as he's leaving a small corner store. Just behind him is a sign that reads, "The best way to go is M. & D. Co". Obviously not related, but M.D.C. are the initials of Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman. *shudder*
A mid-'60s interview featured John being asked how he thought he would die. His response? "I'll probably be popped off by some loonie."
In the Yellow Submarine animated movie, the Beatles accidentally Time Travel to the 2000s (it's a setup for "When I'm 64") and see their future selves out the window of the submarine. Ringo remarks, "There's only two of us."note In context, he was talking about two submarines with four Beatles apiece, though.
One scene in Help! has John being held at gun point.
"We Can Work It Out": "Life is very short/and there's no time/for fussing and fighting, my friend..."
In one of their early interviews in America, John is asked what kind of girls he likes, to which he responds, "My wife." Seconds later, George is asked the same question, and he says "John's wife!", much to the amusement of the other three. This becomes decidedly less funny after you find out that George actually had an affair with Ringo's wife years later.
The video for "Something", on so many levels:
It's made up of cute footage of the then-current Beatles couples (John and Yoko, Paul and Linda, George and Pattie, and Ringo and Maureen) and contains lines like "I don't want to leave her now" and "she knows / That I don't need no other lover". John, George and Ringo would later cheat on their wives, and Ringo left his.
Maureen and Ringo riding together on motorbikes. After Ringo left Maureen, she was so upset that she drove a motorbike into a wall (in what most biographers believe was a failed suicide attempt) and had to have full facial reconstruction surgery.
During their first, and most famous, appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, there are captions introducing all four band members, and in a funny moment, underneath John's name it says "Sorry girls, he's married." Funny at the time; not so funny now that we know it wasn't exactly the happiest marriage.
The song "All My Loving", whose opening lines are "Close your eyes and I'll kiss you / tomorrow I'll miss you...", was said to have begun playing right after John Lennon was pronounced dead.
"Revolution 9" includes samples of various classical works, including those by Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Schumann and Beethoven. Though "Revolution 9" in general is something of a Genius Bonus; usually only those who've been exposed to avant-garde electronic music before will find it listenable. (Believe it or not, it's probably one of the more accessible works in the genre.)
There is also the snippet of a dramatic reading of King Lear at the end of "I Am the Walrus."
John Lennon was inspired to write "Because" from hearing Yoko Ono play the Moonlight Sonata and asking "Can you play those chords backwards?"
. . . Except that the chords of "Because" aren't the chords of the Moonlight Sonata played backwards.
Growing the Beard: Before William Riker, there was George Harrison, and to a lesser extent, the whole gang. The video for "Strawberry Fields Forever" stunned their fans with their sudden facial hair, and their music started to get more artistically ambitious.
The pictures on the Red Album and the Blue Album are the same Beatles in the same place in the same pose, seven years apart. They changed a lot in that time...
They also provide a subversion, however; the one time McCartney grew a beard was during the sessions to record what would ultimately become Let It Be; the sessions were unhappy and bitter, and they signaled the band's ultimate collapse, resulting in a poorly-received and mixed-quality album.
Harsher in Hindsight: The song, "We Can Work it Out." Despite the optimism of the title, ultimately none of Beatles could see the problems of their comrades their way and thus could not work it out.
Hilarious in Hindsight: "When I'm 64" became quite appropriate when Paul actually turned 64. At least one radio station played said song on said birthday.
Paul apparently heard that song so much during his 64th year he once said he regretted ever writing it to begin with.
In the 1965 fan club Christmas record John starts singing the chorus of "It's The Same Old Song" by The Four Tops before George stops him: "copyright, Johnny!" A decade later, George became painfully aware of how much trouble can be caused by copyright infringement accusations with the "My Sweet Lord"/"He's So Fine" lawsuit.
"I've got to admit it's getting better... A little better all the time."
Well, "It can't get no worse."
It's Easy, so It Sucks: The Beatles: Rock Band didn't have that great a reception among the more hardcore Rhythm Game enthusiasts and Rock Band fans due to their belief that it was too easy. The meager song list (45 songs out of hundreds of possible songs by the band) and the inability to import the songs to another Rock Band game certainly didn't help matters.
Magnum Opus: Subverted. The Beatles have too many ground-breaking albums - Revolver, Rubber Soul, Hard Day's Night, Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road, the White Album - to narrow it down to just one.
The Paul Is Dead urban legend theories based on supposedly hidden messages in the Beatles' songs.
"I Am The Walrus" and "Glass Onion" were intended as sarcastic attacks on all those Beatle fans who sought for hidden messages and meanings in their songs. Beatles fans "found" hidden messages in them, too.
Misblamed: Inverted; in keeping with the simplistic "Lennon was the deep, creative one / McCartney was the fluffy, inconsequential one' truism, many of the later innovations and artistic achievements of the Beatles in the later years of the band, such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, are credited as being down to Lennon. Most of them, in fact, were McCartney's ideas, and he was arguably the key creative driving force for the band from about 1966 onwards.
One-Scene Wonder: Eric Clapton came to the studio at his friend George's request to play on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". He delivered probably the best guitar solo to ever appear on a Beatles record.
Alan Civil (French horn on "For No One") and David Mason (piccolo trumpet on "Penny Lane") also contributed memorable solos.
Painful Rhyme: Given the size of their discography, it was probably inevitable that a few of these would show up. One example is "My love don't give me presents/I know that she's no peasant" from "She's a Woman".
Replacement Scrappy: Back in the day, Cavern Club regulars weren't too happy about Pete being replaced by Ringo.
A popular bumper sticker at fan conventions reads "Even Yoko has a Leg Up on Heather Mills."
Sacred Cow: Any sort of criticism (be it mild or harsh) of The Beatles is bound to get you burned. In fact, just going so far as to state that The Beatles are not your personal preference (even if you qualify it with mentioning that you do, however, respect them) is quite risky.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Definitely. It's hard for some younger listeners to appreciate how groundbreaking they were because, basically, every pop-music act ever since is following in their footsteps.
The fact people are always told to start with Sgt Pepper or Abbey Road can make people feel this way. It is generally recommended to listen to the albums in order to get an idea of how varied the band's music was.
"What's the New Mary Jane," a White Album outtake that was apparently shelved after George Martin decided one "experimental" track was enough.
Vindicated by History: Both the White Album and Abbey Road received mixed reactions on their release; the former for its overly satirical nature and lack of coherence, and the latter for its use of synths and overproduction making the album seem artificial. Now, they are considered among the greatest records ever made.
What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: One of the most famous examples. John Lennon's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", thought by many to be about LSD right down to the "LSD" initialism formed by the title, was actually inspired by a drawing presented to John by his young son Julian. John asked what the picture was, Julian said "Lucy [a schoolmate] in the sky with diamonds"—presto. The lyrics and dreamy quality of the instrumental don't help the perception.
They averted this trope outside the studio, taking plenty of drugs in their spare time (especially Lennon), but inside the studio they mostly played this straight. Their work ethic and sense of craftsmanship meant that they had to stay sober. Most of the Beatles' recording sessions were fuelled by tea and cigarettes. In fact, a Sgt. Pepper session had to be halted early because John had accidentally taken LSD before he left home and was unable to concentrate.
Woolseyism: Some of the Capitol albums might be sequenced better than the corresponding EMI albums; for instance, Meet the Beatles got onto the Rolling Stone "Greatest Albums of All Time" list, while the version it "butchered", With the Beatles, didn't. Many fans, including Brian Wilson, think the US version of Rubber Soul is miles better than the UK version. (Capitol cut out most of the more electrified songs in favor of the acoustic pieces.)
As noted in Canon Immigrant on the main page, the Capitol Magical Mystery Tour album is so superior to the British two-EP set, if only in form factor, that it has displaced the EPs in "canon." Not only did the US album have a 12" version of the 7" British booklet, it also included the band's 1967 singles on Side 2. In England, the album version of Magical Mystery Tour finally replaced the EPs in 1976.
Yoko Oh No: To this day, it is still debated whether Yoko Ono or Linda Eastman had a role in The Beatles' breakup. Yoko has gone on record as saying that neither she nor Linda broke up The Beatles. This is true, but their presence probably didn't help the group's integrity. It took approximately a year for Paul to understand exactly why John and Yoko were inseparable.
There were several factors to the breakup, not just the singer's wives. The fact that most celebrity wives either cheat or spend long periods of time without their husbands takes its toll on a relationship, especially when kids are involved.
Most celebrity wives cheat? John Lennon was constantly cheating on his wife Cynthia, and they had a kid. Paul cheated on his long-term girlfriend Jane Asher. By that logic, you could say that infidelity kept The Beatles together, and it was when they were ready to be committed husbands that the band broke up.
Yoko wasn't the sole reason that the Beatles broke up, but she was a reason. John Lennon said so in his 1980 Playboy interview.
Lennon: "When I met Yoko is when you meet your first woman and you leave the guys at the bar....The old gang of mine was over the moment I met her....but it so happened that the boys were well known and weren't just the local boys at the bar."
Probably the best way to look at it is that Yoko was a symptom of the breakup, not the cause.