Do I have your attention now? Good. Because I like the Beatles. I do, I really do. And I absolutely love a lot of their songs. I love The White Album and I love Sgt. Pepper’s and I love Let It Be (but only the naked version. I only like the Phil Spector Wall-of-Mono). I really like Rubber Soul and Revolver and Abbey Road, too. Overall—and call me radical, call me profound, call me revolutionary—I’d say that the Beatles were a pretty phenomenal band.
But I don’t love ‘em. I don’t get excited about them. I don’t seek them out, memorize their class schedule and just happen to be in the hallway right outside the door and act surprised to see them. I don’t seek out obscure versions of songs and demos. I don’t bring them up in conversation when I meet someone—”Oh, you like the Beatles, too?! No way! I like the Beatles! Let’s be friends!” Beyond the three aforementioned albums, it’s actually very rare for me to actively and consciously choose listen to the Beatles. I own every album, and I enjoy them immensely whenever they come on, but I rarely think, “I want to listen to the Beatles right now.” Hell, just between you and me—seriously, don’t spread this around—but a little tiny part of me judges someone in my age bracket if s/he refers to the Beatles as his/her favorite band. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely met people my age who do genuinely love the Beatles, and mean it when they say it with the full-fledged passion of wedding vow, but I’m not talking about them. They’re fine by me. I’m talking about the people who say it, as far as I can tell, because it’s easy. Because it’s what they think they’re supposed to say, supposed to like. Because they lack a real passion for music. They’re the greatest rock and roll band of all time, without a doubt—but that doesn’t mean they have to be your favorite.
You see, the Beatles aren’t my band. They’re not my band, because, in a way, they’re everyone’s band. We all lay claim to them, in our own way, but as a result, we all have to share them (It is different for the people who were alive for that brief dimple in time when the group was actually active because they were there. They were a part of it). Maybe it’s some subconscious monogamy thing, but if I can’t claim the Beatles as my own, then I can’t love them. I love the songs, but not the band as a singular collective entity. It’s not about popularity; there are plenty of bands that I claim to love who are popular (not as popular, sure). But with these groups, it’s still something I can be there for, and it’s not nearly as universal. Maybe the Beatles are like air; it’s not very often that I really crave air, or desire it (except when I’m having an asthma attack. But that’s different) the way I do bacon, or beer, or a milkshake. It’s just a fact of life.