Fifty years ago, yesterday, four boyish lads stepped onto the sets of the Ed Sullivan Show in America and rocked out to a record audience, 70-million strong. That moment, The Beatles broke the borders of British fandom and spread Beatlemania worldwide. Kerala’s musicians say they still remember them, like just yesterday
First listen: When I was really young. We had their music playing in our home all the time.
Loved for: The earnestness and heart in their music. Their harmony and song-writing is something that is studied by musicians even today. It’s amazing!
Favourite song: Blackbird, Yesterday and Hey Jude
Covers: I do my interpretation of Yesterday for some of my gigs. It's quite ironic you're asking me about the Beatles. Was just wearing a Beatles t-shirt!
First listen: When I was five years old from my father’s LP of the Hard Day’s Night album. I didn’t know then that that was The Beatles, but the tune stuck on
Loved for : Their song-writing skills. They popularised the structure of under-three-minutes songs, which were radio-friendly and catchy. They were prolific and there’s much to learn from them, especially from how they projected themselves as a band, with help from their manager of course.
Favourite song: Is still a Hard Day’s Night. Yesterday and Norwegian Wood too.
Covers: As Motherjane, we were into much heavier stuff so we never covered The Beatles. But I did jam their songs with my friends.
First listen: In Munnar when my uncle’s band covered Hard Day’s Night. We used to wait for the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation radio to play their songs so that we could figure out their chords.
Loved for: Their beautiful harmonies. Their later songs were ‘alternative’ even before the genre became known. Despite being in the pop scene, their chord progressions drew from classical and jazz music. Their lyrics too had that surreal touch, Strawberry Fields for instance. The way Lennon and McCartney wrote their songs around a guitar riff still influences me.
Favourite song: Eleanor Rigby, While my Guitar Gently Weeps
Covers: We sang them in college often. And when we weren’t singing them, their music was in the environment always.
First listen: I was still in school, in the 60s, when we bought their LPs from a shop in Broadway.
Loved for: Everything from their hairstyle and belts to their shoes. John Lennon’s chord progressions and Paul McCartney’s bass lines were just fantastic. They were also among the earliest to bring a different kind of harmony to pop music. Lennon’s quote “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” is what I’ve lived by.
Favourite song: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Covers: In the early years, we covered The Beatles regularly. We’ve even done entirely Beatles-only nights.
First listen: While I was in Chennai at college in 1998. The song was probably All you Need is Love. I had probably heard them before in school but never listened attentively till in college. I had a bunch of Nepali friends who told me John Lennon was like an uncle giving us advice, and I believed them!
Loved for: Their simple, minimalist songs. I really got into them during their later albums which went beyond love songs. In my music too, I try and keep it simple - a trait I probably got from them.
Favourite song: Help!, All my Loving
Covers: While in college, I wasn’t a full-time musician yet, but we used to play The Beatles often at hotels in the evenings.