15 episodes

Popular music in the UK and the United States was a bunch of disparate genres, performed by amateurs, often to audiences of teenagers – or adults who weren't exactly discerning, in the case of folk music and mainstream American pop music – and whose musicians didn't have much to do with each other. At the end of the 1960s, it had undergone a change identical to the fracturing of “classical” and “jazz,” only in a far more rapid fashion than either of the art genres discussed did. The Beatles were more responsible for this logarithmic change than anyone else. We can't go back to a pre-Beatles popular music even if we wanted to. Their influence is that far-flung and diverse. Their songs have transcended their era but even though they are less popular than they used to be, their influence is still incalculable. I will show that throughout this podcast. The pop rock world we live in is a world built by the Beatles. That is why they are – and will forever remain – the greatest rock band of all time.

The Beatles are the Greatest Rock Band of All Time and I Can Prove It Riley Haas

    • Music

Popular music in the UK and the United States was a bunch of disparate genres, performed by amateurs, often to audiences of teenagers – or adults who weren't exactly discerning, in the case of folk music and mainstream American pop music – and whose musicians didn't have much to do with each other. At the end of the 1960s, it had undergone a change identical to the fracturing of “classical” and “jazz,” only in a far more rapid fashion than either of the art genres discussed did. The Beatles were more responsible for this logarithmic change than anyone else. We can't go back to a pre-Beatles popular music even if we wanted to. Their influence is that far-flung and diverse. Their songs have transcended their era but even though they are less popular than they used to be, their influence is still incalculable. I will show that throughout this podcast. The pop rock world we live in is a world built by the Beatles. That is why they are – and will forever remain – the greatest rock band of all time.

    Introduction to the Beatles are the Greatest Rock Band of All Time and I Can Prove It

    Introduction to the Beatles are the Greatest Rock Band of All Time and I Can Prove It

    Episode Notes
    The thesis of my book and this podcast is that culture evolves in time and that there are certain moments in time when dominant movements in culture forever fracture into different pieces, and we can never go back to the before times, when there was just one, or a couple, movements. The Beatles’ central place in the history of rock music is because they were the main creative and commercial force at the centre of one of these moments.
    If you look at the history of western high art music aka “classical,” there is a similar moment, as there is with jazz, as there likely has been with hip hop (I just don’t know what it would be).
    European high art music evolved from plainsong. This was replaced by the more sophisticated Renaissance music. Renaissance music, in turn, was replaced by even more sophisticated Baroque music. And then there was a reaction to ornate Baroque music and it was replaced by simpler, more melodic Classical music. But a new reaction created Romantic music.
    However what happened with Romantic music didn’t follow the pattern of the previous centuries. Instead of being replaced by a new dominant genre, Romantic fractured into many different pieces: impressionism moved away from programmatic music while the crisis of tonality gave birth to modernism and later serialism. The story of 20th century high art music is one of many different approaches, including revivals of all the movements from before the fracturing. We can never go back to when there was one dominant form of art music.
    The same thing happened in jazz: traditional jazz evolved out of the collision of slave songs and European instruments; the same collision that produced the blues and country, among other genres. Jazz differentiated itself from more “folk” genres with its musical sophistication and soon became known as America’s art form. From the early traditional jazz bands it evolved into big band jazz. As with what happened in European art music, there was a reaction to big band, bebop, or what we now call “bop” or mainstream jazz. However, due to massive technological changes in communications, there wasn’t just one reaction. And so only two eras into its history jazz broke into many different pieces: bop, hard bop, Afrocuban, and later free, fusion and many, many others.
    It is my argument that this fracturing happened with pop rock as well, in an even shorter period than with jazz. This podcast is about how the Beatles were the central force both in the establishment of the dominant cultural movement of pop rock, but also its fracturing into many little pieces. Unlike with classical and jazz, all of this happened in only a few years, making the Beatles all the more central to the changes.
    There is no one artist who both aided the development of “classical” music and contributed to its fracturing: Bach died in 1750, before Mozart was born, and Beethoven was only 21 when Mozart died; none of the composers who rebelled against the forms perfected by these composes were alive. And the same is true, though less so, for jazz: Louis Armstrong never played any of the new genres that emerged after the fracturing and Duke Ellington only dabbled. Those most associated with the new waves of jazz, Miles Davis and many, many others, had nothing to do with the birth of jazz and were all rebelling against big band’s and traditional jazz’s rules and performance styles. But the Beatles helped rock and roll become pop rock. And then, only a few short years later, they helped fracture pop rock into many different pieces.

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    • 32 min
    A Brief History of Music Before the Beatles

    A Brief History of Music Before the Beatles

    Episode Notes
    How can we go about understanding the historical importance of any band?
    Perhaps the biggest hurdle is how to know what music in a period before we lived was actually like. Nothing – no piece of art or scholarship – can truly put us into another time. If it succeeds at invoking feelings, they are either nostalgia – from those who were there – or manufactured – for those of us who weren't. So we are inherently struggling from the start. Yes, many people who were alive during the Beatles' approximately seven-and-a-half-year reign as the most popular band in the world will remember it, but I'm not necessarily trying to convince them. Moreover, they may not remember it like I want to tell it. Unfortunately, the Beatles are forever linked to Beatlemania, a time when a lot of young people were too into the Beatles and it’s very easy to understand how people would want nothing to do with that phenomenon. Many people are, like me, trend averse. Beatlemania is a phenomenon that tends to obscure the true meaning and musical importance of the band.
    But for those of us who were not there, we need to understand why the Beatles were great musically, outside of Beatlemania, if we are going to understand why I steadfastly claim that they are the greatness rock band of all time. And to do that, we need to look at music before the Beatles, which necessarily involves looking at the thing called rock and roll which emerged to encompass other things – some similar and some quite dissimilar – and became the generic name for popular music throughout the world, albeit in short-form: rock.

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    • 48 min
    Who were The Beatles?

    Who were The Beatles?

    Episode Notes
    Before I discuss the Beatles, album by album, single by single, I want to familiarize you with the band. I figure if you don't care about the Beatles or don't think much of them, then you can't really know much about the Beatles themselves. So think of this as a brief primer, a way of letting you know approximately what each guy did, so that later you aren't wondering who that McCartney guy is I keep talking about.

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    • 49 min
    The Invention of Pop Rock: The Early Years

    The Invention of Pop Rock: The Early Years

    Episode Notes
    "Love Me Do"
    Please Please Me
    "From Me to You"
    "She Loves You"
    With the Beatles
    "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
    Please check out Alan W. Pollack's Notes on... series

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    Folk Rock Part 1

    Folk Rock Part 1

    Episode Notes
    "Can't Buy Me Love"
    "Long Tall Sally"
    A Hard Day's Night
    "I Feel Fine"

    Please check out Alan W. Pollack's Notes on... Series.

    Support The Beatles are the Greatest Rock Band of All Time and I Can Prove It by contributing to their tip jar: https://tips.pinecast.com/jar/the-beatles-are-the-greatest-r

    • 44 min
    Folk Rock Part 2

    Folk Rock Part 2

    Episode Notes
    Beatles For Sale
    "Ticket to Ride"
    "Help!"
    Help!
    Please check out Alan W. Pollack's Notes on... Series

    Support The Beatles are the Greatest Rock Band of All Time and I Can Prove It by contributing to their tip jar: https://tips.pinecast.com/jar/the-beatles-are-the-greatest-r

    • 41 min

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