Lately, I’ve been down a YouTube rabbit hole watching old Beatles press conferences.
The Fab Four didn’t just revolutionize popular music; they changed the way we thought about musicians as personalities. The way they interacted with the press – their presence humour – ripped up the rulebook and set a precedent for generations of musicians to come.
Needless to say, Messrs Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr’s correspondences with reporters have resulted in many a memorable quip over the years. And for this post, I thought it’d be fun to collect some of the best quotes – everything from zingers to profound words of wisdom – uttered by the Beatles. Let’s dive in:
“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.“
“Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.”
“For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!”
“All music is rehash. There are only a few notes. Just variations on a theme. Try to tell the kids in the Seventies who were screaming to the Bee Gees that their music was just The Beatles redone. There is nothing wrong with the Bee Gees.”
“Somebody said to me, 'But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.' That's a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, 'Now, let's write a swimming pool.”
"The Beatles were always a great band. nothing more nothing less"
"Look, people are allowed their own opinions and they don't always coincide with yours. As an artist you just have to keep plugging on."
"I think people who create and write, it actually does flow-just flows from into their head, into their hand, and they write it down. It's simple"
"One of my biggest thrills for me still is sitting down with a guitar or a piano and just out of nowhere trying to make a song happen"
“The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them.”
“In the end, you're trying to find God. That's the result of not being satisfied. And it doesn't matter how much money, or property, or whatever you've got, unless you're happy in your heart, then that's it. And unfortunately, you can never gain perfect happiness unless you've got that state of consciousness that enables that.”
“The Beatles exist apart from myself. I am not really Beatle George. Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion, and until the end of my life, people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.”
“Although I have guitars all around, and I pick them up occasionally and write a tune and make a record, I don't really see myself as a musician. It may seem a funny thing to say. It's just like, I write lyrics, and I make up songs, but I'm not a great lyricist or songwriter or producer. It's when you put all these things together - that makes me.”
“I've never been able to sit round on my own and play drums, practice in the back room, never been able to. I've always played with other musicians. It's how I play, there's no joy for me in playing on my own, bashing away. I need a bass, a piano, guitar, whatever, and then I can play.”
“I never studied anything, really. I didn't study the drums. I joined bands and made all the mistakes onstage.”
“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I've made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.”
“I am a big Beatles fan. And, you know, unbeknownst to anyone, I used to be one. But I have no problems of putting titles and lines from other songs in my songs, because they're great lines and great titles.”
What’s your favourite Beatles quote? Share your stories in the comments!
Cal Jam doesn’t get the same love as festivals like Monterey Pop or Woodstock. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have the late ‘60s countercultural cred, happening a full five years after the summer of love reached its peak. Maybe it’s because it was staged to be filmed for television (as part of ABC’s legendary “In Concert” series). Why do I love California Jam so much? It is because it established the record for the largest concert sound system ever assembled? Was it because it featured the first ever appearance of the Good Year blimp at a music festival?
Guitar lessons eventually followed. But, classical guitar didn’t grab me in the same way that my own freeform compositions had. Firstly, I didn’t know any of the songs I was supposed to be learning. Secondly, it required the kind of co-ordination and finger dexterity that I was – at that time at least – far too impatient to master. “I read somewhere that there are these things you can use to hit the strings so you don’t have to use your fingers. I think they began with a P,” I once told my guitar teacher. “The thing that begins with a P is called practice,” he replied. He was right, of course, but that didn’t mean I wanted to hear it.