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14th September, 2020

#PaperbackWriter - Arun tells us what he thinks made The Beatles stand out from the crowd

In this instalment of #PaperbackWriter Arun, a big Beatles since 2018 tells us exactly why he thinks the vocal techniques used by the Fab Four from Liverpool helped them stand out from the crowd. 

I have known many popular Beatles songs since my childhood in the 2000s, such as Hey Jude and Yellow Submarine. However, it was only during the summer of 2018 that I really became familiar with the band and their songs. It all started when my dad found the Abbey Road album in our CD collection while on holiday in France and played it for the first time in many years. I didn’t recognise the songs at first but quickly familiarised myself with the album. Our next door neighbour later introduced me to some other Beatles songs such as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Drive my Car, which he told me was the only song which featured the fifth “Beatle”: the Volkswagen on the cover of the Abbey Road album.

In September that year, 2018, I joined the City of Oxford College to study music. We were grouped into temporary bands, where our teachers assigned us some cover songs to learn and perform together. Our first cover song was Nowhere Man, which we practiced over and over until our next assignment. I learned that the song was from the album Rubber Soul, which I later bought the CD of. This sparked my interest in the Beatles’ music and I bought some more CDs as time went on. Later that year I snapped up a 1960 PYE Stereophonic record player that my college was throwing out. This brought me into the world of vinyl. However, although quite good for other records, the speakers did not work properly for a modern vinyl reproduction of a With the Beatles record that I bought.  Luckily, most of my albums are on CD which means I can listen to them on a CD player, or online if I wanted to.

One of the things I love about The Beatles is the harmony present in their songs. An example of this can be found in the song Please Please Me, where Paul and John harmonise for the verse but then separate at the chorus with the “come on, come on” part, creating on overlap. These techniques made The Beatles stand out from the contemporary pop artists, even though they shared similar, mainly conventional love lyrics at the time. In 1965, however, The Beatles’ lyrics became more adventurous and thought provoking with the song Nowhere Man, and in 1966 they released Eleanor Rigby, which blended classical and pop music together with a very relatable lyrical theme about “all the lonely people”. Perhaps one of their greatest songs was A Day in the Life from their 1967 Sergeant Pepper’s album, which was so surreal and unique that it remains unrivalled to this day. The Beatles changed forever how we perceive music and are truly one of the greatest bands of all time.

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