A weird thing about rock music in arenas is that it’s hard to proclaim yourself as downtrodden rebels standing up to the man when you’re playing to a crowd of thousands who have paid over $100 per ticket to see you.
Media personalities and comedians are rock stars of the modern era. We’ve heard many of them complain about “being canceled,” and then further suffer from being signed to big shows or receiving Grammy nominations. This is the type of cancellation my career could really use, but since sexual harassment and picking on marginalized communities is already overdone (and personally abhorrent to me), I thought I’d try the following unpopular opinion:
I don’t like the Beatles.
This controversial (perhaps cancel-worthy?) statement isn’t just a cynical attempt to stir up negative engagement. It is that, but it’s also true. I’ve heard a number of Beatles songs, and didn’t like any of them enough to want to hear them again. As far as I’m concerned, the main artistic contribution of the Beatles was to inspire great artists who made fun of them, from Allan Sherman’s “Pop Hates The Beatles” to Eric Idle’s “The Rutles” movie.
But I think my main objection to the Beatles is that many people seem to think they are the pinnacle of Rock music. I think they’re nothing special, which is why some people consider me a caveman. Well, who would know more about rock music than a caveman? Cavemen are from the Stone Age. Rock music was what they lithin’ to. Specifically the lithophone, the original rock music instrument, where you make sounds by hitting rocks with other rocks.
That’s rock music. But people who dig the Beatles take it for granite that they’re better than anything that came before—or after. I don’t share the same sediments, because frankly, that strikes me as a load of schist. Of quartz everyone wants to zinc that the band they love produces music that will be played for centuries. But they’re gravel-y mistaken. It’s the rare song that can cement its place in history, like Geode to Joy. The Beatles may have cobbled together some songs that appeal to the loess common denominator and gained mass appeal, but it’s shear nonsense to talc like they won’t lose their luster in a century. That’s just tuff love with some stone cold truth.
I know, I sound like a crusty old man who has taken up the mantle of a curmudgeon as my core engagement strategy. Why not be magma-nimous rather than tweaking the nose of music lavas and creating a rift between us until my name is karst by everyone? Why not play it coal, be gneiss, wipe the slate clean. Maybe I shale. I know I was ranting a minute ago like a rubble rouser, and now I’m acting like everything’s o-clay... you’ve probably never metamorphical man. I beryl-y know what I’m saying sometimes, so I opal be forgiven for sounding a little jaded and then changing my mine. And if not, it’s my own asphalt.
Last year I was talking rock with my best friend from high school, who has grown up to be a nationally-recognized environmental science teacher. (I’d certainly recognize him anywhere in the nation.) And after a rocky start, he dropped some pearls of wisdom I had to respond to. I thought, “Okay, albite.” And I had to admit that, garnet to heck, he knew more about rock than I did. Eventually he said, “I always enjoy the opportunity to gabbro.” Boom. Mica drop.
The truth is, I know very little about rock. But I know what I like. I like a large boulder the size of a small boulder. And I don’t like the Beatles—they bug me. And that doesn’t need to be controversial, because everyone’s opinions on rock will differ.
After all, rock and roll may sound great to you, but it sounds like hell to Sisyphus.