David Snyder: The Beatles & The Power of Music

This story begins with a gift to my kids in December 2009:  Rock Band – The Beatles.  

At the time, my kids were 7 and 9, with very little “music of their own”.  Music is different today, with IPods, ITunes and such.  Back then, we bought albums and then cassette tapes.  Today, you just go online and download.  There was a glory, a joy, a feeling from looking at the album cover, from reading the lyrics, from playing the whole side over and over again, from hearing needle as it hit the vinyl. 

Now, although my stereo equipment is set up in our house, the kids never use it.  They would rather listen on the iPod with headphones, not, in my opinion, the way the music was meant to be heard. 

One of my earliest memories is singing “Let It Be” with my Dad and older brother – we recorded it on an old hand held cassette recorder from the early 70’s.  And thus my appreciation of The Beatles began.   So when we knew we wanted Rock Band, the obvious choice was The Beatles version.  With that, a new generation of Beatles lovers was born in our family.  The kids had certainly heard some of the songs, but with Rock Band – a new world was opened up to them, to really hear the music of the greatest band ever.  Yeah, I know – some will say Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, etc, but there really is no contest. 

Just listening to the music that The Beatles recorded over a 10 year period is the transition from 50’s and 60’s rock and roll to modern rock.  It is hard to believe the same band recorded “Love Me Do” and then later on, “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” (or anything else from the “White Album” for that matter).  To think that one band went through that much transition in such a short period of time is nothing short of incredible.  And not just the music, but the recording of the music.  Remember, Sgt. Pepper’s was recorded on a 4 track machine, and yet the way The Beatles layered music, and used the stereo settings, was truly groundbreaking and awesome.  And to think that their music has endured for more than 40 years tells the real story.  And I believe it is our job as music lovers to pass along our love for such great music.  And this is what gets me back to my story.

With Rock Band, my kids now know the lyrics and melodies to about 50 Beatles songs, along with being able to play the game and score quite well.  They can tell a John song from a Paul song, and hear the difference in early and later Beatles songs.  There are many songs not included in the original CD, but can be downloaded onto your WII harddrive, which is exactly what my kids have done. 

The songs they have chosen are not your typical ones either.  My kids just downloaded “Nowhere Man”, “Polythene Pam”, “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”, “You Never Give Me Your Money/Golden Slumbers/The End” (notice a little Abbey Road favoritism here).  And the game also has many of the not so popular songs (“The Word”, “Dear Prudence”, “I Got a Feeling”), to name a few, all great songs. We sit around the house and my kids play the game and soak in all of this great music.  The sounds of John, Paul, George and Ringo fill our house with music and joy.  Not to mention that, although Rock Band’s guitar does not really teach how to play guitar, the drums really do. 

Recently I was in a music store and my son sat down at a drum set and just started playing – where did he learn to do that?  Rock Band.  In fact, if you want to learn beginning drums without the investment typically needed to buy even a beginner’s set of drums, the sales associate at the store suggests that you go get Rock Band!    

Music has always brought us together.  It makes us feel good.  It jogs memories. It takes us back to places and times.  And now, my children have the same sense of appreciation for the greatest music of an era, of two eras, or even three.  And not just the greatest hits, either.  They go deeper, which is really where you find some of the best stuff.  We can sit for hours watching the kids play, and occasionally join in because there is a microphone attachment too, as part of the game.  But the best part of that, other than the genuine family time, is of course, listening to the Beatles. 

If you don’t have it, go get it.  The program is a bit outdated by today’s standards – Rock Band has later versions, but then The Beatles did quite fine with crude equipment, so why can’t you. 

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make…

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