When I’m 54: Celebrating the 54th birthday of The Beatles’ debut single

When I was eight years old I got a portable CD player and three CD’s for Christmas; Busted’s A Present For Everyone, Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits and The Beatles’ 1 – the compilation album of their number one hits. By this age I already knew a few Beatles tunes – as every British youngster does – but the awe goes hand in hand with listening to The Beatles still shone through. ‘Love Me Do’ started the voyage through seventy nine minutes and eight seconds of insanely catchy melodies, perfectly crafted lyrics and an insight into a legacy that has refused to stop burning even to this day.

The anniversary of their first chart appearance has arrived, and despite being fifty four years since ‘Love Me Do’ made it to number four in the UK singles chart, there’s still no denying that the fab four are, and will always be, the rock and roll stars that all others have aimed for. Look no further than the Gallagher Brothers for proof.  The sex and drug fuelled lifestyle they lived is still alluring, and frankly, you’re lying to yourself if you say you don’t dream of it.

The Beatles tunes are as catchy as the common cold. Through all of their transformations, from clean cut youngsters to hippies to lounge lizards, they never failed to deliver generation defining hits. Every song is the ideal blend of clever lyrics, perfect harmonies and addictive melodies. Right from their first chart appearance the fab four were the band everyone wanted to be. Today’s chart topping artists seem so detached from the talent of Liverpool’s finest export, it’s easy to forget where the idea of a super group started.

The quartet were constantly shadowed in controversy. In a time when everything was very prim and proper, Paul admitted to taking LSD and John was a notorious ladies man, and this was big news.

We cannot underestimate here the impact that this caused to 1960s Britain: it was a time of social conservatism. The type of times that the Tories only dream that we could return to. It got to the point where the BBC banned songs like ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ as a result of supposed drug references. The Beatles were pushing at social norms in ways that no band had ever done before. Countless bands since the fab four has been craving such a lifestyle.

However, it could be argued that the controversial stars of today are just as influential. Maybe even in the future, Miley Cyrus will be seen as revolutionary for getting naked on stage. Rather than being the odd one out, perhaps she will be the one who’s the icon.

But it was The Beatles who pioneered the rock and roll lifestyle. They created it. Now, when acts like Cyrus attempt to emulate such behaviour – when they try to push the boundaries for the sake of pushing the boundaries – it merely seems like a desperate attempt at gaining fame. Noel Gallagher even once said of Cyrus: ‘be good – not controversial’. But for youngsters that’ll go on to headline festivals in the future, Cyrus might present the captivating liberal lifestyle and attitude that they want to have, just like the Beatles have done for years.

What fills me with hope, is that The Beatles’ story hasn’t ended yet. The Beatles have been one of the biggest influences on music of modern pop, and will continue to do so. Everyone from Dave Grohl to Jeff Lynne has cited them as the group that inspired them to pick up instruments in the first place. They had it all. The attitude, the life, and most importantly the music to back it all up. Modern chart toppers just cannot compare to this legacy.

But even The Beatles had their critics in the 60s. So maybe it’s naive of me to think today’s chart toppers are so passionless and boring. Maybe I’m just stuck in my ways and don’t want to see the world of music plunge further into, what I would class as, talentless pop.

Despite this, I have to say however, whatever way you look at it, Justin Bieber is still shit. And I will refuse to say sorry.

Ben Roberts

(Image: Pitchfork)

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