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'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

Say You Want a Revolution…

The British Invasion that began with the Beatles' record-setting American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show not only transformed rock 'n' roll but in some ways marked the end of pop music as it had existed for the previous seventy years

Wald explains that the Beatles did in fact destroy rock 'n' roll by creating a schism between white and black music that's only grown farther apart in the decades since the dawn of Beatlemania (see: disco, soul, hip-hop). Like many early rock bands, the Beatles were rooted in the music of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. As the band found its creative voice, its members abandoned their early influences. The results included "the effetely sentimental ballad" "Yesterday," a song that Wald claims "diffused" rock's energy and opened the door for milquetoasts such as Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Billy Joel and Elton John. With the "Sgt. Pepper" album, the band draped their music "in a robe of arty mystification, opening the way for the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Yes, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer."

"Rather than being a high point of rock," he continues, "the Beatles destroyed rock 'n' roll, turning it from a vibrant (or integrated) dance music into a vehicle for white pap and pretension." And what, again, was so revolutionary about Pat Boone.

Do you think they destroyed Rock and Roll? Well my opinion of course not they actually saved it.

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

Interesting. I can totally see where the author is coming from and I had never thought of that before. I was thinking that you could lump The Stones in with them but they never really abandoned their roots.

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

So the Beatles destroyed rock n' roll by creating....variety? Honestly, would you actually WANT all the music to be a simple derivative of Chuck Berry/ Elvis/ Buddy Holly/ etc. or do you want some sort of variety to it?

Music is still a unifying concept, just because many people listen to many different types of music doesn't change that. I for one am glad that there are probably over 9,000 genres to choose from when it comes to music. Obviously the author isn't.

Even so I don't believe that the schism of "black music" and "white music" occurred in the mid sixites. You see gospel and blues as predominantly black music predating that, and country and western as predominantly white music predating that as well. In the 1920's you had jazz and swing which were one of the most popular forms of music and had almost entirely a black audience. You also had country and western which was pretty much all white. These were possibly the two most popular types of music for two decades, and both of these genres (along with gospel and blues) were the immediate precursors to rock n' roll in the 1950's. In the 1950's you still had gospel and soul (predominantly black) and country and western (predominantly white) and rock n' roll which was a mix of the two.

There has always been a "schism" and there's always been music that both blacks and whites listen to. The Beatles didn't cause it, they may have helped it along, but is variety REALLY such a bad thing??

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

I think by destroyed they mean The Beatles changed what rock and roll meant which is widely considered as the truth in a less controversial way of saying it. The bands who were known as rock and roll then are most likely considered R+B groups now. So, yeah they (or you can argue they and a bunch of other bands) destroyed rock and roll.

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

somehow i have a doubt that the song "yesterday" was entirely the reason why soft rock bands emerged or that the velvet underground really cared about what the beatles did on sgt. peppers.

the beatles were influential and all but they didn't have that kind of supreme power over music that it's legitimate to use them as the sole scapegoat for the destruction of rock, if that is in fact your view point.

to me this just sounds like a guy that has a beef with the fab four and is trying to legitimize his dislike with lame argument that (OH NO!!!) they CHANGED what was made before and made something (please don't say it) NEW!

if you don't like the beatles that's fine, but please...destruction? i don't think so.

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

While everyone tends to look back at Sgt. Pepper as the monumental Beatles album of the 1960s, when it comes to influence, I would have to say that Revolver was more influential than Sgt. Pepper. When Tomorrow Never Knows was released, it sent ripples throughout the fabric of the musical universe. By the time we got to Sgt. Pepper, the ripples had become waves. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band not their best album, but there's no denying that rock's delusions of grandeur began here. Floyd, Moody Blues, Tull, Queen, Styx, Boston ... as disparate as you might seem, you all owe a big debt to that fateful record.

On Dark Side of The Moon, sound effects such as clocks, footsteps, etc. were mixed in with the music. Voices were incorporated into the songs, repeated loops. Numerous sound samples were used on the album. Sound effects or not, DSOM is one of the greatest albums ever, but as has been mentioned already, it follows in the concept album lineage first created by Sgt Pepper.

That does not mean there were not a few precedents. Pet Sounds was a big influence on Sgt Pepper. Pet Sounds still uses the Phil Spector Wall of Sound production ideas and their is no actual linkage of the songs but it still influenced Sgt Pepper. Sgt Pepper music production is very different and the direct linkage of songs with crowd noises, artifical sounds was a common effect in later progressive rock. Another album Absolutely Free musically complexed and with political and social satire that links songs. Sgt Pepper songs are wraped around symphony orchestras, loops, world music instrumental groups and other arrangements that I think were to arty compared to what Zappa was doing.

Lastly to blame one group for a racial divide in music is nonsense. The Beatles songs have been covered by countless black musicians.

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

Tell me that rock and roll was in better shape in 1961 and 1962 than in 1971 and 1972.

The Beatles didn't destroy anything. They opened the doors for derivative genres of rock. There will always be blues inspired danceable rock. There is little fundamental difference between what Keith Richards and Jack White do, in comparison to what Muddy Waters did. As for Chuck Berry descendants, almost all of "power pop" is pure Chuck Berrt. This includes bands like Oasis.

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

Power Pop was basically invented by the Beatles or it's highly influenced by the Beatles. Oasis is very derivative of the Beatles. Chuck Berry was not Power Pop but he was insanely influential

Re: 'How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll' by Elijah Wald

With the "Sgt. Pepper" album, the band draped their music "in a robe of arty mystification, opening the way for the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Yes, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer."
The VU & Nico album came out 3 months before Sgt. Pepper did...