Saturday, May 2, 2009

the beatles

It's Saturday morning. All of the pups are *somewhere* else, except Pup #4, who is asleep on the sofa in the living room. (He's developed a penchant for sleeping on the sofa. It has nothing to do with his own bed; I think he has this fancy that sleeping downstairs equals staying up all night equals being a teenager.) I am in my Saturday morning mode. In my pjs, drinking coffee, listening to music (thanks to the awesome Internet radio site, Radio Paradise) and surfing the web. When the weather really breaks, I'll sit outside and do this with my laptop instead. Countrymouse has run out to do an errand, so I essentially have the place to myself. I can get away with this little diversion only to a certain point... if I miss the cut off, I will waste my morning all together. It's a talent (one that I have not quite mastered).

I spent some time randomly clicking through Blogger. I like doing this. It's like spinning the roulette wheel of the blogosphere. Most of what I land on holds no interest for me... some of it isn't even written in my own language, let alone using an alphabet I understand. Occasionally I'll find a gem and that keeps me going.

This morning I landed on the following blog:
The Gently Gear Freaks. The blog is mostly in Chinese or Japanese sinographs (how would I know the difference??) with some occasional use of English words. The Gently Gear Freaks are a Japanese Beatles cover band living in Shanghai. You just don't much more random than this.

These guys are serious. The suits are awesome (Pup #1 would kill for a suit like that). But these guys don't merely dress like the British Invasion era Beatles; they are sporting Rickenbacker and Gretsch guitars and the *Beatle* on the left (the Paul wannabe, I am guessing) is even playing left handed. Is that a coincidence? (And yes, they sing in English.)

I am endlessly amazed at the stronghold The Beatles have had on our culture (well, if you consider the Gently Gear Freaks, on world culture). They were probably the single greatest influence of the 60's. When the counterculture of the late 60's and early 70's ushered in new thoughts and expression, The Beatles were still cultural pacesetters.

My parents had some Beatles albums around the house that I listened to growing up, but I think they were never real fans. They probably had more of The Beatles records on the Apple label than on Capitol. As a kid, I don't think I even acknowledged the group's shift in musical styles, I just liked them. Sometime before I met him, Countrymouse became a huge fan of The Beatles. He knew all their older stuff and played it all the time. John Lennon was his favorite.

Rubber Soul has always been my favorite Beatles album. It's considered a turning point for the group by most critics. The album offers more than just perky boy-girl songs. I've seen it said that on Rubber Soul The Beatles drew from the folk/rock influences of Bob Dylan and The Byrds. (Considering my prevailing tastes in music, this is interesting.)

Culturally, The Beatles pop-up all over the place. (My pups have always been big fans, but I am not sure if that is a true test of The Beatles staying power. My pups also listen AC/DC and Mike Doughty. Gotta foster that love for music early on.) You can see their mark on fashion throughout their heyday. Their political activism, while a popular meme in general, is still written about and admired in certain circles today. Their music gave a voice to more than one generation, but for 1950's Brits and Americans, it defined them.

My all-time favorite tribute to The Beatles is the clip below, Meet the Beat Alls. This is from the Emmy-winning Cartoon Network series, The Powerpuff Girls. The cartoon series ran from 1998 to 2005 (and continues with tons of reruns). These were the apex of cartoon viewing years in our household. (Although I still frequently catch Countrymouse watching cartoons by himself. His current fave is
Phineas and Ferb.) Good cartoons, like The Powerpuff Girls, are written on multiple levels so there is something that will appeal to the parents in the room. With episodes named Mr Mojo Rising, Just Another Manic Mojo and Schoolhouse Rocked, The Powerpuff Girls are keenly aware of this element.

Kudos to The Gently Gear Freaks for getting out there and having some fun. Sometimes music provides the backdrop for our lives. Sometimes music is our lives. Either way, our lives are always better for it.

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