Today, in 1969, the Beatles released what would become one of their best-selling albums, Abbey Road. According to one commentator, it was half traditional rock album, half pop symphony, with all the songs on the second part pouring into one other, cascacading into a pool of remarkable sound images, from "Here Comes the Sun" and "Because" to "Golden Slumbers" and "Carry that Weight" -- great songs, and when you added in "Something" and "The Octopuses Garden" from the first side -- well, it was and still is pretty amazing.
There was a lot of curiosity about the album cover photograph -- like why was Paul crossing the road barefoot? And whose car was parked on the left curb? But one of the most interesting legacies of the Beatles, from this and their other albums, is that a good deal of their music, and their playful public personnas have become quintessential expressions of what we value about childhood and youth -- its highly creative uses of language, its love of the absurd and the nonsensical; its fresh, innocent idealism; its pure, joyful, celebratory energy. No wonder many of their songs have become musical standards of childhood and have been appearing on children's records with some frequency over the past decade. There's a Beatles anthology played entirely on toy instruments, and another collection of their music scored for a music box orchestra; it's a little tacky but even here the Beatles' wonderful melodies shine through. And Sesame Street even paid its own homage a few years ago with Christopher Cerf's witty send up of Beatles and other pop songs on a CD called "Sesame Road" that's still available at most record stores. "Let it Be" is transformed by Cerf into "Letter B" and "Hey Jude" becomes a child's (and Cookie Monster's) tribute to the restorative powers of a good snack, and gets renamed in the proces, "Hey Food." It's an imaginative, iconoclastic meal that even (perhaps especially) the lads from Liverpool would relish:
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Copyright 2003 © John Cech
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