So today, as of 12:01 am on December 24th, the Beatles’ music is officially available to stream on free music streaming services including Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, and others. This may not break the internet quite as much as when the Beatles’ music first went digital on iTunes in 2010, but it is still a pretty big deal. Although I don’t actually use Spotify or stream much music beyond the occasional use of Pandora or iTunes radio, I like this move, for a couple of reasons.
First, it once again brings the Beatles’ music into the news and into the 21st century, which I believe is only beneficial to developing the next generation of Beatles fans. Do most Beatles fans already have their albums on their digital music library through iTunes or (like me) uploading CDs? Probably. I don’t think the Beatles being on Spotify will really impact the daily lives of most of their fans that much. But I do think that it presents the possibility of more kids and teens discovering their music almost by accident, which is a truly magical scenario perfectly fit for the Christmas season. I pretty much developed my Beatles obsession, as I’ve blogged about here, after casually deciding to watch a video of them on YouTube, and I’d imagine there are plenty of kids out there like me that, thanks to Spotify, are about to find out how incredible the Beatles are without even knowing it yet.
Second, beyond helping the Beatles gain new fans, their catalog’s presence on Spotify and other streaming services keeps their music current and relevant to even older fans. It is quite remarkable that the Beatles are still as popular as they are considering that they broke up in 1970 and never reunited, but I think this is partially due to periodic “Beatles-related projects” like The Beatles Anthology, the 1 album (which pops up on the iTunes charts with regularity), the Love show in Las Vegas, and the gradual digitization of their musical catalog. These events make headlines everywhere and keep the Beatles music in the public eye fairly continuously, which seems to have helped preserve their legacy.
Obviously, I believe the unmatched innovation and timelessness of their music is primarily what keeps people coming back to the Beatles, but their songs are covered so often by other bands and seem to be always relevant to some project that it feels like the Beatles have never really gone out of style. One of my lifelong goals is to make sure the Beatles’ music stays popular and respected, and if this is accomplished because a whole new sector of music lovers can listen to their music free on Spotify, then I am satisfied. Anything to have more people listening to the Beatles!
It is the day before Christmas, and this news certainly feels like a Christmas miracle. Paul, Ringo, and other Beatles associates have always been reluctant to authorize Beatles music for commercials or make their music digitally available, but I do not see this decision as the Beatles “selling out” to the public. Rather, I see it as the Beatles adapting to music-listening in a new century and in a manner with which younger listeners are quite familiar.
And now for something completely different!
Random Beatles song I’ve been listening to a lot recently: Cry Baby Cry
I know I put this song on my “underrated Beatles songs” list a while back, I really should do another one of those lists because there are so many underappreciated Beatles gems. I love this one in particular because the lyrics are sort of abstract while still making a point. Not to sound like an old fogey, but I do sometimes find that lyrical creativity is lacking in a lot of popular music today, and songs like this remind me of how well-placed words add beauty to a song.
This reminds me of a documentary about the composer Stephen Sondheim I was watching a while ago, in which he brings up a lot of interesting points about writing poetry versus writing lyrics. I forget exactly what he says, but basically he believes that words of poetry are written with the intention of the reader going back and analyzing them, whereas lyrics should be easy to process as the song progresses and should not require too much additional thought about their basic meaning.
This is sort of why I don’t really believe in over-analyzing the lyrics of a song. Lyrics are meant to be heard in the context of the music, not as stand-alone words on a page like poetry, and they can take on a different meaning when heard with a tune and an accompanying guitar line as opposed to just read with no supporting sound. Many people enjoy pondering every word of certain Beatles songs, or songs in general, but I usually prefer to just listen and appreciate how the words relate to the song itself and what impact the song as a whole has on me.
In short, to cease this senseless rambling, I am excited that people can stream Beatles music for free online, and Cry Baby Cry is a wonderful song. 🙂
Merry Christmas, happy New Year, happy holidays, happy everything to anyone reading this blog!