It seems as if every day is some kind of Beatles anniversary. Ed Sullivan, Shea Stadium, getting together, breaking up, dropping acid for the first time, meeting Muhammad Ali soon-to-be, pictures of Paul McCartney meeting anyone who happened to die on any given day …
On the other hand, yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Naturally, with this never-ending attention, nowadays I happen across people on social media who claim the Beatles were overrated. Few expressed that view until recently, but lots have people have been born since the Beatles broke up.
In one sense, it’s true. How could they not be?
But they influenced almost everyone between Ralph Stanley and Pete Seeger. Noticed I wrote “between,” as in, I don’t think Stanley and Seeger were influenced by the Beatles. Just most in between. Tom T. Hall wrote a song that suggested people today were “trying everything from Jesus to Jack Daniel’s,” when in fact the better path was to “try a little bit of both and leave out everything in between.” As you may have surmised, Hall wasn’t unduly influenced by the Beatles, either.
Sometimes the Avett Brothers, a favorite band of mine, sound like the Beatles. Sometimes they sound like Ira and Charlie Louvin, too, which has a lot to do with why I’m a fan.
British rock stars invaded the States successfully in part because they were influenced by American blues. They found additional resonance. It wasn’t unusual for them to sing like Muddy Waters, finish a song, and talk like Michael Caine.
The Beatles were influenced by the blues but didn’t mimic them. They turned the influence around.