Why The Beatles are the most underrated band ever!!
The Beatles underrated? You must be joking- you can’t get away from them!
Even though they split up nearly 50 years ago, their music still fills the airwaves. They are still held in reverence all these years later. How can they be underrated? Wooah! Easy! I’ll tell you…
You may think there can’t possibly be much left to write about The Beatles. Every song has been analysed over and over again. Well, one of the (many) reasons I think they are still underrated is because many of their best lyrics are still revealing themselves, still producing shocks and surprises, despite having been studied for decades by Beatles enthusiasts and even academics.
You want an example, I know, so let’s take a fresh look at “Hey Jude”.
Yes I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but bear with me!
Most people know the story of how this song was written by Paul McCartney on his way to visit John Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia, following her break-up with John who had recently left her for Yoko Ono.
Paul was feeling sorry for John and Cynthia’s son, Julian, and the effect the split would have on him, so he started to form an idea for a song to cheer him up while driving to their house – “Hey Jules, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better etc”.
By the time the song was finished “Jules” had morphed into “Jude” and the song seemingly took on a life of its own.
At a time when relations between John and Paul were somewhat strained, John liked it because he thought it was about him and Yoko with Paul seemingly giving his approval to John’s new relationship (“Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better”), while Paul thought he was singing about Julian!
So whose meaning was the right one?
Well, you could argue that the writer (in this case Paul) ought to know what he’s writing about, so surely his version is the most accurate?
I would disagree. I believe that sometimes artists think they know what they are writing about or creating, but some years later come to realise that they weren’t really writing about what they thought they were.
I have certainly found this to be the case with some of my own lyrics for The Acoustic Rainbow.
So, are we saying that Lennon’s interpretation is the “real” one then? Well, no. That was just how the universal truths contained in the song resonated with him in a very personal way.
For me, there is a much more profound take on the lyric to this song. Paul may not even be fully aware yet of what he wrote, or to be more accurate, channelled.
For me the most successful lyrics are literally given to us from higher realms when we are “in the flow”. Paul also famously channelled “Yesterday” whilst asleep, waking up with the entire melody in his head.
This is one of those lyrics where I believe divine inspiration came into play. So, here we go with my take on it…
Change the word “Jude” to “Judas”.
Suddenly the lyric takes on a whole new theme – one of forgiveness. Not just any old forgiveness mind, next to Adolf Hitler Judas Iscariot is probably the most hated man in history. He supposedly betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the cheek, handing him over to the Romans to be crucified.
However, far from being condemned for his actions, in the lyric Judas is being told “take a sad song and make it better” by remembering to “let her into your heart”. For me “her” refers to the feminine aspects of divinity – compassion, forgiveness and nurturing.
In other words, this is God himself/herself telling Judas “Cheer up! It’s really OK – forgive yourself and things will look a whole lot better!”
As the saying goes, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”.
This song lyric resonates with us because it contains a divine aspect of truth – that no-one is a lost soul, no matter what mischief we (or Judas) may get up to. That’s good news!
Even if we are not consciously aware of this interpretation (and I’ve never heard of it being described this way by anyone else previously), it still hits the target in our subconscious which is hardwired to the eternal truths.
Have you ever wondered why you like a particular song or piece of music? Try to analyse it and it’s quite difficult to pin down. In many cases it is because there are deeper aspects to the song which trigger deeper emotions within us, and it doesn’t get much deeper than forgiveness.
Little wonder then that “Hey Jude” is consistently voted one of the Beatles’ most favourite songs.
Whether you agree with my personal interpretation or not is unimportant – this is what it says to me when I hear it. Maybe you have your own equally valid interpretation. The best pieces of art offer multiple interpretations as to their meaning. How could anyone offer a definitive explanation of what a painting by Picasso is meant to say?
As I said at the beginning, The Beatles are still producing surprises and even the most well known songs can still be interpreted in new ways.
I could write a whole book about “Strawberry Fields Forever”!
The Beatles were indeed far more than just a pop group…