Beatles Songs And Movies, A Beautiful Marriage

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This post, contrary to what this picture may imply, is not about Beatles songs in their OWN movies, but rather about Beatles songs in OTHER movies.

Music and movies are more intricately connected than we often give them credit for. Music may exist perfectly fine on its own without any attachment to a movie, but a movie would not be a fraction of its final product without accompanying music to set a mood. Music alone can give a movie scene a lighthearted tone, an eerie mysticism, or an inspirational spirit, even if the actual footage and dialogue used in the scene is the same regardless of the music choices. It also makes a difference to the audience whether the song is well-known or not, as the sudden appearance of a classic rock song, for example, in a movie is likely going to create a different reaction among an audience than a modern indie track.

It’s no surprise to me that many movies over the years have famously featured Beatles songs. The Beatles’ lyrics, especially for songs such as “Eleanor Rigby” and “A Day In The Life,” tell stories akin to how a movie strings together a narrative about characters, places, and hardships. This makes their songs well equipped to accompany movie scenes.  In addition, many opening riffs to Beatles songs are so iconic that the audience immediately recognizes them, adding a sense of familiarity to a scene in a movie that, by endearing itself to the audience in this way, allows the audience to sympathize with or relate more to the character in question than they may otherwise. I am more knowledgeable about music than I am about movies, but several notable examples of this beautiful marriage between Beatles songs and movies come to mind, which I’ll share with you here. Feel free to comment with any additional examples that may be close to your heart.

Baby You’re A Rich Man- The Social Network

This is one of the more critically acclaimed uses of a Beatles song in a movie that I can recall in recent memory, and with good reason. This song, which was originally directed by the Beatles towards their manager Brian Epstein regarding his hedonistic lifestyle, fits in perfectly to question Mark Zuckerberg at the end of this movie. If you’ve never seen The Social Network, during the scene with this song, Mark Zuckerberg is sitting in a conference room, on the cusp of Facebook’s truly explosive breakthrough into mainstream culture that is about to make him a billionaire. However, the movie ends (spoiler alert? this has been out for several years…) with him being put in his place by his constant refreshing of his friend request to his ex-girlfriend, and by this song playing in the movie’s background. I love how the song speaks directly to the listener, asking “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? How often have you been there?” The way the scene is shot, it seems like the song speaks directly to Zuckerberg. It’s a sharp critique of upper-class social life that remains relevant today, as do so many Beatles songs. I’m glad to see that an underrated song like this one received well-deserved attention for its feature in The Social Network, an excellent movie in its own right.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight- Sing

This is a more lighthearted addition to this list, which warrants a place mostly because of Jennifer Hudson’s incredible voice. I loved the movie Sing largely for how it celebrated an unbridled love for music, theater, and the arts in general. This song features in both the beginning and end of the movie, initially as a rather diva-esque moment for Jennifer Hudson’s character, and later as a satisfying moment of closure for the characters after the emotional roller coaster that they have all gone through. I cannot recall another animated movie in recent memory that used a Beatles song in as effective moving a manner as this one. Especially near the end of the movie, when the heartfelt characters are finally having their moment in the sun and singing their hearts out, I teared up a bit as this song played again in the movie’s background. Songs such as this from the second half of Abbey Road have a unique power to signify closure, in my opinion because they were among the last songs on the official last Beatles album. I always associate this song with the end of that fantastic album, and featuring it at the beginning and end of a heartwarming movie such as this created a familiar sonic pleasure for myself, and hopefully for other Beatles fans at the movie theater.

Because- American Beauty

Despite being the major Beatlemaniac that I am, I honestly don’t think I noticed that the version of this song in the movie is actually a cover, sung by Elliott Smith, until I looked it up. It sounds nearly identical to the original Beatles version, minus the instrumentation present on the Beatles’ version. This particular Beatles song is known for being one of their most beautiful and also most haunting songs, with which I completely agree. It perfectly complements the themes of the ultimate banality of American suburban life, and also the remarkable qualities present in every aspect of our lives, that this movie features. I find American Beauty a bit scary at times, especially at the very end, and this song plays perfectly into the slightly eerie tone of the entire movie.

Twist And Shout- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This is one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies of all time. The marriage of song and scene here perfectly captures the universal appeal of the Beatles and how they manage to bring diverse crowds together all over the world, nearly 50 years after they split up. One thing interesting about this scene is how it begins with just Ferris singing along on the parade float, but gradually the entire crowd joins in until the entire street is singing along, young and old, to this classic song. This also illustrates to me the power that Ferris wields throughout the movie to bring people together who may have never associated with each other before, such as his sister Jeanie and Charlie Sheen’s character in the police station. “Twist and Shout” also captures the carefree, happy-go-lucky spirit of the entire movie that defines Ferris’s free spirit on his day off. Out of all of the iconic scenes in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this scene stands out as perhaps the most iconic precisely for the use of this song.

All You Need Is Love- Love Actually

Last, but certainly not least, is a wonderful scene from another one of my favorite movies, which is perhaps the most literal interpretation of a Beatles song on this list. This scene, like American Beauty, features a cover of a famous Beatles song, this time by a joyful choir in the church during a wedding ceremony. I love how the traditional organ music after the couple exchanges vows quickly segues into the opening chords to “All You Need Is Love,” which begins an even more ceremonious rendition of the song when groups of instrumentalists suddenly stand up from their pews and play the song’s familiar riffs, in my opinion one of the most charming parts of this entire enchanting movie. I love most how delighted Keira Knightley’s character is by the whole affair, though frankly I don’t blame her. If I was surprised on my wedding day with a gospel choir singing a Beatles song, I think I’d react similarly. Anyway, this short scene always sticks out to me as a particularly effective use of a Beatles song  to communicate the message most prominent throughout their musical catalog: love.

Notice how I did not include any songs from the movie Across The Universe, a 2007 movie which featured entirely Beatles songs and which I have not seen. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this movie in particular, and I’ve also only listened to several of the tracks from the movie, which are all sung by cast members. From what I’ve heard, I don’t really love these versions of some of my favorite songs, though perhaps in the context of the movie they leave a different impression. But that’s for another blog post to hash out.

I may do a sequel to this post in the future if I think of any more movies I love that feature Beatles songs, or if a new movie comes out with a Beatles song I love. That’s all for now!

My Top 10 Favorite Beatles Song Lyrics

Thought this was cute. :)

Thought this was cute. 🙂

I was hemming and hawing over what to post today, when this idea popped into my head. We all know that musically the Beatles were brilliant, but their song lyrics are just as extraordinary. Sure, many of their earlier songs have a lot of “cheesy” lyrics, which I will not deny. However, whenever I listen to one of their later albums like Rubber Soul or Abbey Road, I’m amazed at just how insightful and clever the words to their songs are. Sometimes I listen to a Beatles album only to pay attention to the lyrics, which helps me see it in a whole new light. So, without further ado, here we go!

10. I Saw Her Standing There- “Well she was just seventeen, you know what I mean.”
According to The Beatles Anthology, the original opening line for this song was, “Well she was just seventeen, she’d never been a beauty queen.” When John saw that’s what Paul had written, he supposedly said, “You’re joking, right?” and they changed it. Good move, in my opinion. There isn’t that much to dissect with this one, I just like how it flows. And that it’s vaguely suggestive. 🙂

9. Revolution- “But when you talk about destruction/Don’t you know that you can count me out”
When the Beatles sang this live on David Frost in 1968, John actually said, “Don’t you know that you can count me out, in” because he wasn’t sure what he believed. One thing I love about this song in general is that from the very first note, it makes a statement, and every line in the song, like this one, lives up to the boldness of those opening guitar chords.

8. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away- “If she’s gone I can’t go on/Feeling two-foot small.”
The actual line for this song had “two-foot tall” instead, but when John accidentally sang “two-foot small” in the studio once, Paul suggested he keep it that way. I like that this line doesn’t make logical sense initially, but really, it does. It’s sort of like a glass half empty vs. glass half full situation. Just another example of clever wordplay from the Beatles. 🙂

7. The Long and Winding Road- “Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried/Anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried”
Paul is clearly a master at rhymes, but this line in particular just hits me in a deep emotional place. The song itself is sad, but hopeful. This might be lyrically one of Paul’s best songs ever, actually, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

6. Think for Yourself- “Although your mind’s opaque/Try thinking more if just for your own sake.”
While this was far from George’s first song, I think is the first time his lyrics were truly on par with Lennon and McCartney. The lyrics to this entire song are great, but I chose this line in particular as an example of the growing songwriting aptitude that George demonstrated on Rubber Soul. Way to go George!

5. Old Brown Shoe- “I want a love that’s right but right is only half of what’s wrong.”
More George for you! He has said in interviews that he intended for the lyrics of this song to juxtapose each other, with words like right and wrong and early and late. The lyrics to this entire song are clever and so very George. As I’ve said before, this song is extremely underrated.

4. I’ve Just Seen a Face- The entire song
While the lyrics for this song might not be the deepest, most philosophical in the Beatles’ catalog, I really have a special place in my heart for this song because of them. The whole song flows in a really interesting way because of how the lyrics are structured, and for that reason I didn’t single one line out in particular.

3. I Am The Walrus- “Expert textpert choking smokers/Don’t you think the joker laughs at you?”
I am happy to report that I typed that line entirely from memory. I guess I’ve listened to it too many times. 🙂
But seriously, every line in this song is just nuts. I suppose that’s what happens when John Lennon writes a song purposely to confuse people who read too much into the Beatles’ lyrics.

2. The End- “And in the end the love you take/Is equal to the love you make.”
This might be one of the single best known lyrics in the Beatles’ catalog, so this might not be that original a choice, but it is truly a beautiful, poignant line. I don’t think Abbey Road and the Beatles’ career could end any better than with this line. It sums up their entire essence in one simple line.

1. Across the Universe- “Limitless undying love that shines around me like a million suns/It calls me on and on, across the universe”, but basically the entire song
I firmly believe that the lyrics to this song are some of the most beautiful words ever written. I highlighted this line in particular because it’s the one that always sticks out in my mind, but really the entire song is a beautiful fountain of poetry. John is usually known as “the lyrical one” between himself and Paul, and I think that John really makes the case for best lyric writer in the Beatles with this song. It’s definitely a masterpiece.

Wow, for coming up with this idea on a whim, I really like how this turned out! I think I’ll try to do a “top 10 lines from Monty Python” in the near future as an expansion of this post.
Have a great weekend!

And I Love Polls

So here’s another poll I came up with. I think this is a pretty interesting one, because I was curious to see what is the one Beatles song that most people can’t live without. I tried to pick a list of Beatles songs that basically everyone, even non-Beatles fans, would know.
If you would choose another song that’s not on this list, feel free to comment about it!
For me personally, out of this list of songs, I’d have a hard time choosing between Hey Jude and Here Comes The Sun. It’s pretty much a toss up between those two, although While My Guitar Gently Weeps is my #1 favorite Beatles song.
Enjoy the week!

ELO, John Lennon, and American Idol

George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, buddies and pals.

George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, buddies and pals.

This title may seem rather random, but I had a few random thoughts I wanted to share on the blog today.
First, if you don’t know who ELO is, the letters stand for Electric Light Orchestra. It was a British band with Jeff Lynne at the helm that was popular during the 1970s and 1980s. Jeff Lynne is a well-known Beatlemaniac and a good friend of George Harrison (I feel like every other musician I listen to is either George, a different Beatle, a friend of George, or George’s son), and the music of ELO really reflects the Beatle influence with its many dramatic string arrangements and very catchy melodies. Their songs, at least the ones that I know, generally rock and are fun to listen to.
I was reminded of ELO the other night after not having listened to them in a while. I had just finished a LONG study session for my math midterm, and afterwards, I found myself having an impromptu dance marathon to some of ELO’s more upbeat songs. I’d forgotten jsut how great their songs are! Basically, if you like the Beatles, you’d like ELO, so if you like the Beatles but don’t know ELO, check them out!
Here are a few of my favorite songs by ELO:

Don’t Bring Me Down

This song flat-out rocks. I can’t stop myself from dancing whenever I hear it. A little embarrassing, but it’s true.

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head

This is perhaps the second most beautiful song ever recorded, after The Beatles’ Something. It’s so beautiful that sometimes it makes me tear up a bit. To me, it sounds like a mix of Something, Let It Be, and The Long And Winding Road. Once I hear it, I can’t get it out of my head.

Evil Woman

I used to listen to this song in the car with my family, and not knowing who ELO was, I thought it was part of a Broadway soundtrack or something like that. I was mistaken, but I still love this song! Jeff Lynne sounds a little like John Lennon here, I think. To the rest of the world, maybe not.

Mr. Blue Sky

This is probably the most famous Beatlesque song by ELO. I absolutely love it, and the creative arrangement never fails to surprise me. I feel like this song could have fit right in on Sgt. Pepper as a John/Paul collaboration. Wishful thinking, I suppose, but really, Sgt. Pepper is just fine the way it is.

Do Ya

Amazing song. Great guitar. End of story.

To quote Monty Python, “And now for something completely different!”

Yesterday in the car, I had a random vision of John Lennon trying out for American Idol. I don’t know why this came to mind, but the thought was so funny that I burst out laughing. I can just picture him going in there with his guitar and Liverpudlian accent and singing Across the Universe as his audition. Then, Randy Jackson and the other judges would say stuff like, “We think you’re really special! We love your voice! Welcome to Hollywood!” John would probably say something like “Thank you very much,” run out of the audition room yelling “I MADE IT!” and give whoever was around a big hug.
Then, I pictured Paul auditioning, being his cute and charming self and singing Let It Be or Hey Jude. He and John would both make it for sure if they tried out today. Imagine a John Lennon/Paul McCartney finale of American Idol! That would be amazing!
George probably wouldn’t want the instant fame that comes with auditioning for a reality show like American Idol.
And honestly, I love Ringo, but I’m not sure if his singing skills alone would carry him though the competition. Still, he’d certainly be a fan favorite!

Thus concludes this random post on Beatle Me Do. I hope I passed the audition.