Monday, February 4, 2008

The Beatles Are Across the Universe

To date, there have been two movies with dedicated soundtracks of nothing but Beatle songs, I Am Sam and Across the Universe. Both, as movies, are excellent films for a variety of reasons. It is obvious that the generation that lived and breathed Beatles are now in command. Bill O'Reilly is a huge Beatles fan. NASA launched the band's, Across the Universe (1968), into space, so their presence is known. The issue and problem with either movie using only Beatle songs (or any movie using their songs) is that:
1. The Beatles'recordings from 1964-1969 remain vibrant and high quality. They have not dated that much.
2. Using their songs with them doing them costs more than making the movie in royalty fees etc. You seldom, if ever, hear their songs done by them in a movie or commercial.
3. Doing a cover of their songs (as in both movies)by other artists poses major problems to them, which they acknowledge. These are:

A. Why change something that is so good in the original?
B. How can the cover artist create a "better" song? They are all already very good.
C. Competing with the vocals of John and Paul is simply impossible as the listener will compare and the original will win.
D. Do they follow the original arrangement and song structure (which is usually the best)or divert and try a different approach with the risk of total failure?

Artists facing doing a cover of a Beatle song have these dilemmas. Some artists asked refused to cover The Beatles, knowing it is pointless to try out do them and whatever the end result is will be much lesser than the original. It is like trying to copy a Van Gogh.

Listen to the I Am Sam or Across the Universe soundtracks. Some take a new "modern" approach, which usually sounds stupid compared to the original. Other artists stick with the original only deviating occassionally. Some speed or slow down the song.
Sadly, the cover is always compared to the original. The cover is always worse. To Beatle fans, they are grateful for such a tribute, yet, laugh at how the covers are done. The only covers of Beatle songs that are any good are those which were written by Lennon & McCartney but never performed by The Beatles (I'm in Love, Mary Jane, Not Guilty, World Without Love, Bad To Me, are a few).

The oddest thing remains that while others cannot cover a Beatles' song, the Beatles always greatly improved on ANY cover they did ( Long Tall Sally, Kansas City, Please Mr. Postman, Chains, Boys, Roll over Beethoven and so many more). The Beatles remain on the same level as Beethoven-both revolutionized their own brand of music. They truly are legends and all others pale in comparision.

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