Why the Beatles

I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico lately, and some of my younger friends there have asked why there is such a mystique surrounding the Beatles. So here are my thoughts, especially for my younger friends who know something big was happening at the time but crave more context on the Beatlemania that swept the world in the 1960s.

They only released 12 studio albums over 7 years, but in shaping the modern (post-Elvis) era of music, no other band comes close. 11 of those 12 albums reached #1 on the charts (and the 12th peaked at #2). Nearly every song on every album was a hit. When I look today at Rolling Stone magazine’s list of top 100 Beatles songs, I can sing at least 85 of them right now off the top of my head, and so can many people without even realizing it. No other band has seeped into the popular imagination in quite that way. As an indication of their dominance, even the last song on the Rolling Stone list, #100, reached #1 on the singles charts. During some years, they were releasing hit songs so fast that they were taking up all the spots (e.g., there was at least one week in the mid-1960s when three of the top five songs were all Beatles songs). Keith Richards, who was there at the 1960s epicenter as lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, once said that there would be no Rolling Stones without the Beatles, because “they kicked the door in” for the Stones and everyone else to follow. (You can see Keith, Mick Jagger, and others in a couple of the later Beatles clips below, as they were usually hanging around for the taping.)

Ozzy Osbourne, whose Satanic antics with his late 60s proto-metal band, Black Sabbath, earned him the nickname “The Prince of Darkness,” was once talking to one of the Sex Pistols in the mid-70s London punk scene. The Sex Pistol (I forget which one) said he didn’t like the Beatles. Ozzy’s response was typical Ozzy: “There’s something fucking wrong with you,” was all he said. But he later added: “For a musician in 1970s London, saying you don’t like the Beatles is like saying you don’t like oxygen.”

The revolutionary work of the Beatles – culturally and musically – is less clear now than it was then, partly (1) because they shaped the sound of music so much to their own image that they now sound like just “one of those 1960s bands,” and (2) their own evolution from beautiful pop love songs to psychedelic rock and experimental sounds, though rapid, was steady enough that no one point seems revolutionary (although some would focus on the 1967 release of the Sgt Pepper’s album as that point). So yes, there were many great bands in the mid-60s to mid-70s reshaping the sonic universe of music, and some of them you might like more than the Beatles, but most of them looked back at the Beatles as the groundbreakers.

Here are a few songs in historical order:

(If it helps measure historical impact, note that even what I’ve listed as “late” Beatles came before the emergence of Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin or the Woodstock festival.)

Early Beatles (1964) https://vimeo.com/241059239
Middle Beatles (1966) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYvkICbTZIQ
Late Beatles (1967): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usNsCeOV4GM

And bonus songs/videos from 1967-68:
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967) https://vimeo.com/249451145
All You Need Is Love (1967) https://vimeo.com/214047758
Revolution (1968) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFckPkukF7g

Click covers below for links.

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Ready for Christmas? Buy now, deliver today

How about a Faulkner Prize finalist novel (Kindle) marked down to 99c?
How about a book signed by the author? ♥

Goodbye, Maggie (shortlisted for the William Faulkner Prize) is 99c (Kindle) this week only. Hippies is $3.76. (Select “Buy for others” to send as a gift. E-delivery is immediate.)

Signed paperbacks (limited number) also available. (Paperback prices below include regular USPS shipping and may not arrive by Christmas.)

Click covers to view online; email drggautier@gmail.com to order signed copies. (Prices below for are for email orders). If you see something you like, order now. Limited number of signed copies in stock.

Goodbye, Maggie
Audience: Adult Readers
Book price: $11 (see shipping cost below)

2019 William Faulkner Prize finalist. In a culture of health food stores, gurus, quacks and seekers, Phil’s stagnant life is rattled when his charismatic brother shows up with the news that he has murdered someone and asks for sanctuary. Thus begins a dramatic comedy of misdirection, as our heroes find racism, madness, and unlikely friendships as they roll through the Louisiana bayous into New Orleans.

Hippies  
Audience: Adult Readers
Book price: $12 (see shipping cost below)

The Vietnam war resistance, psychedelic drugs, sexual openness, the freedom of the commune – it seemed that everything about the 1960s could be incredibly liberating or wildly destructive. Filled with the sights, sounds and ideals of the Age of Aquarius, this hippie epic follows Jazmine, Ziggy, Ragman, and a coterie of hippies as they discover an LSD-spinoff that triggers past life regressions and sweeps them toward a dramatic climax.

 

Spaghetti and Peas
Audience: Ages 2-8
Book price: $14 (see shipping cost below)

What would you do if you saw a snake in the lettuce? Rachael had to figure that out fast. And she found a magical adventure in her own back yard, within smelling distance of the spaghetti sauce her dad was cooking on the stove. Enjoy this zany, richly illustrated, hardbound picture book as a read-aloud or early reader.

Mr. Robert’s Bones
Audience: Ages 14-99
Book price: $11 (see shipping cost below)

In a neighborhood full of quirky characters, three kids’ search for hidden silver in an abandoned house pits them against forgotten ghosts and the house’s dark memories of racism and betrayal. The quest for the silver is especially nerve-racking for Annie, the kid who actually sees the ghosts. Her friends want to believe her but can’t, and she herself is torn between running away from it all and following the ghosts into the house’s dark history.

 

Year of the Butterfly  
Audience: Poetry, General
Book cost: $6 (see shipping cost below)

One year, four seasons, an archetypal journey, a poetic landscape rich in the flora and fauna of intimate human connection, joyous and sad. The poems in this 42-page chapbook are mostly short and pithy, formally sculpted, but each is packed with concept and image, and together they build up an unforgettable sense of how much life can be lived in a year and how quickly that year can slip away.

Shipping (USA):
First book                                            $3.50
Second book in same shipment          $2.00
Additional books in same shipment    $1.00

drggautier@gmail.com

A New Diversity Training Idea: Theory of Enchantment

Interesting. The most common diversity training programs, which typically rely on concepts like white privilege and white fragility, are often perceived (rightly or wrongly) as efforts to shame white people into submission, or as efforts at defining white people into one box (complicit in racism) and defining blacks into another (victims of racism). Unfortunately, when it comes to changing hearts and minds, perception is reality. (I exited university and corporate life before diversity training took hold, so your various experiences with such programs is welcome in the comment section.)

Theory of Enchantment seems to take the opposite approach.

“Looking for an antiracism program that actually fights bigotry instead of spreading it? You’ve come to the right place. We teach love and compassion …. We invite our clients to explore what connects them as human beings.”

This seems so sensible, so uplifting, and so much more likely to dissolve racial divisiveness and get people pulling on the same team, that I’m sure founder Chloé Valdary will get a lot of pushback from the entrenched (multibillion dollar) diversity training establishment. But if Chloe’s approach can warm this vagabond heart so rooted in the Civil Rights/hippie 1960s, maybe her approach can catch on and warm the hearts of the next generation into a new collective flirtation with compassion and shared humanness.

(Note: I suspect her ideas will not win her many university contracts, but the corporate world might be more responsive in this case. It would be a very curious neo-hippie revolution, if corporations are leading the charge of “peace, love, and friendship,” while student movements cling to a more belligerent us vs. them model of racial dynamics 😊.)

Full disclosure: Chloé is from my hometown of New Orleans and that warms my heart too 😊 (I assume that growing up in New Orleans, which is overloaded on both facets of a mixed-race city — [1] lots of racism, and [2] lots of cross-racial collaboration and friendship — may have partially shaped Chloé’s approach.)

From Shrooms to Hippies

I didn’t quite realize it but now Hippies is 99c. Follow Jaz and Ziggy through the risks and pleasures of the 1960s. Go ahead. Click it. Release your inner hippie.

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Read it. Share it. Write reviews.

Click covers below for links.

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A collaboration worth noting

Here it is. Worst nightmare for 1960s segregationists and 2020 woke progressives. A white southerner joining a black singer to do a song by a white British band who were mainly influenced by African-American music. The layers of cultural appropriation is dizzying. The white guys involved don’t seem to know they are supposed to self-identify as racists, and the black guys don’t seem to know they’re supposed to resent the white guys. They are all just digging the collaboration, celebrating each other’s input. May those who have taken a wrong turn to the left and those who have taken a wrong turn to the right find this spirit again someday! (Click image for link.)

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Click covers for links

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A revolution without enemies

With the current fervor for social transformation in the air, it’s a good time to cue an odd-sounding idea at the hidden core of the 1960s social transformation (click for link):

A REVOLUTION WITH NO ENEMIES

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Before you know it

I didn’t even realize it. Hippies is free again this week.

Follow Jazmine and Ziggy through their Age of Aguarius sorrows, joys, and wonders.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTGGWZV/

Go on. Do it. Release your inner hippie.

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Just be nice for the freebie and write an honest Amazon review, however brief 🙂

(Click covers for links)

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Hippies on Eartheart Radio

Friends, lovers, and vagabond spirits of the world!

Here’s last week’s interview for the excellent novel, Hippies, on Eartheart Radio (Oregon Community Radio). Derek, Eartheart radio host and a good brother to all, has interviewed all manner of characters from Wavy Gravy and Squeaky Fromme to Bhagavan Das (Baba Ram Dass’s first guide in India, as chronicled in Be Here Now). Follow Derek’s weekly shows KSKQ or on his Eartheart YouTube channel.

For what it’s worth, I was paired for my segment with St. Catherine of Siena 🙂

Click HERE for Eartheart’s YouTube home

(Click covers below for Hippies or other books by Gary Gautier)

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http://www.garygautier.com