Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cool, Calm and Collected

Between the Buttons (USA version)
Side 1, Track 6
"Cool, Calm and Collected" – 4:17

I hate the Beatles.

That may strike those of you who know me personally as a bit of a surprise. "Ed," you say, "you've got all their albums, you play their music constantly, you're always comparing them favourably to any other band who has an ounce of ambition – how is it that now you hate them?"

Well, let me tell you how that is. It's the Stones that did it to me. The fucking Rolling Stones drove me to hate them. You see, I had no idea what a pernicious influence the Beatles has on rock and roll. I thought it was great that they came along, and by the very nature of their precision, their skill, and their ambition, they raised the whole context of discourse in the world of popular music, the way that Michael Jordan raised everyone's expectations of what a basketball player should be able to accomplish. Of course, the problem was that there weren't many players who were athletic enough, smart enough, and simply good enough to match Jordan's accomplishments – and his influence ended up creating some of the most boring basketball in the history of the sport, as player after player attempted to duplicate his play without success.

Similarly, the Beatles influence amounted to hundreds of competent, straight ahead rock and rollers having ambitions beyond mere rock and roll, that they would explore other cultural realms, other philosophies and religions and modes of thought. It wasn't enough anymore that these musicians played kick ass rock and roll – the Beatles gave them pretensions to something more than that. Unfortunately, none of these musicians had the talent to pull that off (hell, a lot of the time, neither did the Beatles – Sgt. Pepper, I'm looking at you). And so instead of great cheap thrills like "Not Fade Away" or "Get Off My Cloud" we get ponderous dreck like "Lady Jane" and "Cool, Calm, and Collected". That is why I hate the Beatles: they made mere mortals believe they were gods.

I have a confession: I couldn't make it through "Cool, Calm and Collected". This song is such an unlistenable piece of shit that so far I haven't made it through more than 60 seconds of it. Fuck the Beatles – if it wasn't for them, the Stones would never have stopped the Chuck Berry numbers to do this crap.