It explains 80% of the reason I venture into the Wild West-Meets-Idiocracy world that is Twitter: @Super70sSports. Featuring a hilarious mix of sports clips, ads and a mélange of pop-culture references from the 1960s-to roughly the mid-1990s, the account, started by Moraine Valley Community College, sociology professor Ricky Cobb, is simply the best follow on the Twitter device.
Cobb built a cottage industry out of an account that conservatively, is good for at least four or five laughs a day. It’s a must-follow for anyone who remembers Howard Cosell and the Battle of the Network Stars, the American Basketball Association, Newport cigarette ads, 1980s video games and William Shatner-as-T.J. Hooker hood rolls.
And yes, Cobb hits the music notes hard. Nowhere else can you find pictures of Paul Lynde with the Osmonds and Fleetwood Mac takes split with a picture of Steven Tyler looking like your Aunt Clara.
Last week, Cobb asked his 350,000 followers what their favorite Beatles song was. Dutifully, I chimed in with “A Day In The Life” from Sgt. Pepper, tweeting it’s the “Definition of ahead-of-its-time brilliant from first note to last gong.”
As I’m scrolling through the more than 700 responses, seeing what everyone else’s opinions were, I come across a tweet apologizing for thinking the Beatles were overrated.
Well, that sent my brain to a screeching halt. No, actually, it sent it careening into a mountain, like one of those cautionary road-pizza videos you watched in 10th-grade driver’s ed.
The Beatles. Overrated.
A band responsible for influencing (insert number here: 60%, 70%, 75% or 80%) of the bands that came after them is overrated.
The band Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys said inspired the group’s landmark Pet Sounds through – among other things — the sitar. “I’d never heard that before, that unbelievable sound. No one had heard that in rock ‘n’ roll back then: this amazing, exotic sound. It really did inspire the instrumentation I ended up using for Pet Sounds”, Wilson said.
The band Bruce Springsteen rhapsodized about to Grammy documentarians after performing with Sir Paul McCartney at the 2012 Grammy Awards: “There’s a basic realization that you simply would not be here, the way you are here, without this specific person. Who actually is a person!”
The band Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees described thusly: “They were a great influence to us because they were songwriters, they created an artistic credibility in the pop music business which was never there before. The Beatles broke those walls down and started selling a lot of albums, which pop artists didn’t do before them … When the Beatles came on, they changed all that. And pop music started.”
The band Billy Joel said broke the mold from the Frankie Avalon-teen idol plasticity and made it acceptable to play your own instruments, write your own songs and create your own persona. The band Joel told Spinner Magazine created “The single biggest moment that I can remember being galvanized into wanting to be a musical for life was seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
The band Foo Fighters’ founder and drummer-extraordinaire, Dave Grohl, credits for teaching him how to play music. “I had a guitar and a Beatles songbook,” he told Access Hollywood. “I would listen to the records and play along. Of course, it didn’t sound like the Beatles, but it got me to understand song structure and melody and harmony and arrangement. So I never had a teacher – I just had these Beatles records.”
Try cramming that in the mental Samsonite. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.
Naturally, I couldn’t let that go uncommented upon. A childhood friend of mine once said “Snark is your superpower.” Well, if you can’t be born on the planet Krypton, get bit by a radioactive spider or zapped by gamma rays, you might as well take what’s given you and run with it.
“Not being a fan is one thing. I don’t agree, but to each taste, his own. Thinking the seminal band of 20th century popular music is overrated is wrong on every level.”
This attempt to right a wrong prompted this response:
“Everyone has an opinion. Whether it is right or wrong is up to each person. Yes or now. Enjoy the Beatles.”
At this, I had to take one more swing at Mr. Point Misser. I informed him that there is a difference between not liking a band and thinking a band that turned music on its ear, shook it with enough earthquake force to bring noted seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones onto your television and changed the landscape forever was overrated.
Thus ended the exchange. Let’s go to our intrepid correspondent, The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya, for the last word:
“You keep using that word. I do not believe you know what it means.”
By this point, I should know better. Even with Cobb’s gut-busting hilarity and ability to dig up pop-culture elements you never knew existed, Twitter marries the Wild West elements of Tombstone with the IQ-sapping elements of Idiocracy. This union produces love children of oft-relentless stupidity and the reading-comprehension challenged. A 90-second tour of the place establishes this as fact.
But even by Twitter’s lowest common dolt standards, the magma-hot take that the Beatles are somehow overrated is offensive to anyone who can rub together two functioning synapses. A two-minute tour of music over the last 30 years of the 20th century and the first 20 of the 21st establishes this as fact.
When the Beatles played Ed Sullivan for the first time in February 1964, an estimated 73 million Americans tuned in. The U.S. population at that time was roughly 191 million, meaning more than 38% of the country — Thirty-Eight Percent of the United States – watched. That’s 45% of homes with televisions tuned into four mop-haired guys from Liverpool introduced by a stilted, hunched over prude with the stage presence of a hat-rack.
That year – 1964 – the Beatles sold 25 million records in America alone. Within a year, American folk mainstays like Bob Dylan and The Byrds would chuck their acoustic guitars and go electric. Just like the Beatles.
Later that year, Dylan would introduce the Beatles to marijuana. This, in turn, would eventually send the Beatles on drug trips that would produce music my newfound Twitter pal’s great-great-great-grandkids will be listening to on whatever newfangled device in 2264.
Yes, taste is subjective. But facts aren’t. If the Beatles are overrated, so is oxygen.
Brian Robins is the CEO of Bear-Titan Publications, wherein he provides writing and editorial services for a wide variety of publications including the LA Times, San Bernardino Sun, US Golfing association and a host of others. Brian has also been a professor of writing at La Verne University in Southern California. He can be reached at [email protected].