Hey Jude, I Want To Hold Your Hand. While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Let It Be. A Hard Day’s Night, Come Together.
Is there really anything more to say about The Beatles? On 6 July 1957, a certain John Lennon met a certain Paul McCartney for the first time. Introduced by a mutual friend at a local church festival where Lennon’s band played, this was the day the English rock band has its roots.
Sixty years on, the band is still widely regarded as one of the most influential acts during its time. Ron Howard’s documentary film The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years provides insights into the band’s touring years from 1962 to 1966. Produced with the cooperation of McCartney, Ringo Starr, Lennon and George Harrison’s widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the film features archive footage which will please fans of The Beatles.
Before catching the Best Music Film winner at the 59th Grammy Awards, let’s take a look at eight things you may not know about the Fab Four.
1. Steal That Signboard!
"Penny Lane" is a 1967 song written primarily by McCartney but credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. The lyrics make reference to a real street in Liverpool, England. Not surprisingly, there were constant disappearances of the street sign. Liverpool City Council eventually painted the street sign on a nearby building instead.
2. Sweet, Sweet Strawberries
One of Lennon’s favourite spots to explore with his childhood friends (he lived with his uncle and aunt after being abandoned by his parents) was the garden of a nearby Salvation Army orphanage, Strawberry Fields. The location went on to become the basis of the 1967 song “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Strawberry Fields is now a memorial section of New York’s Central Park.
3. Naughty Lyrics
Another 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, which was featured in The Beatles’ television film Magical Mystery Tour, was banned by the BBC. The song lyrics “pornographic priestesses” and “let your knickers down” did not go down too well with the censors, much to the chagrin of many fans.
4. X-Ray Mania
While we are still on the topic of bans, The Beatles’ music was banned in the Soviet Union in the 1950s (this was not surprising, considering how music from many other Western musicians was banned as well). Kudos to the geniuses who came up with the idea of imprinting music cheaply onto used X-Ray scans taken from hospital waste. Creatively referred to as “music on the bones”, a copy now would probably be worth a lot.
5. Not A Fan, Mr Bond?
“It’s simply not done… like listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.” When Sean Connery’s James Bond said this line in 1964’s Goldfinger, fans of The Beatles reportedly gave loud boos in the theatres. Fortunately, Connery is a fan, and even recorded a cover for the 1988 “In My Life” album. Way to go, 007!
6. All You Need Is Love Across The Universe
Julie Taymor (Frida, The Tempest) directed the 2007 romance musical film Across The Universe starring Jim Sturgess (One Day, Upside Down) and Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, The Ides of March), with cameo appearances by Bono, Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek. Based on an original story, the film incorporates 34 compositions written by The Beatles. It is refreshing to see how the songs are interpreted in the movie – like how a girl sings “I Want To Hold Your Hand” while pining for the attention of a fellow female cheerleader.
7. The Very First Devil Horns
The Fab Four were known to be the trend setters of many things, and amongst them is how the “devil horns” hands gesture first appeared on the band’s “Yellow Submarine” cover. It is apparently the first time this icon associated with rock music appeared, courtesy of Lennon’s cartoon figure.
If you loved The LEGO Movie (2014) and The LEGO Batman Movie (2017), do you think a LEGO Beatles Movie would work? In 2016, Lego released a set of the Fab Four’s iconic Yellow Submarine. The 550-piece pack is complete with adorable minifigures of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. Singer-songwriter and avid Beatles fan Kevin Szeto put forward the idea to Lego’s “IDEAS” section, received the obligatory 10,000 votes and presto, a collector’s item is born!
The last time The Beatles recorded a tune was 20 August 1969, where they performed “I Want You (She’s So Heavy). The band broke up in 1970, and each of the members were at different heights of their music careers. Lennon was murdered in December 1980, while Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. Starr released a single “Give Me Love” on his 77th birthday on 7 July this year, while McCartney was last seen opposite Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
The Beatles may have had their fair share of controversies but one thing for sure, they will be fondly remembered for many years to come.