letting the beatles go

BeatlesBook390James Marcus at Harper's Magazine:

Because I’m a skeptical person, I tend to grow suspicious of the things I love. Which is why I’m wondering whether a half-century after the Beatles landed at JFK, it might be time to give them a rest. The demographic cohorts following my own will never attain our heights of Fab Four worship. And indeed, their impatience with Boomer culture strikes me as completely reasonable. The giants of that era keep sucking the air out of the room, don’t they? Imagine being told that guys in their seventies are still better than anything your own generation can produce. Imagine being peddled, year in and year out, a rosy View-Master panorama of that departed age, like Periclean Athens plus paisley and blotter acid.

No wonder a kind of Beatles fatigue has set in. Let the contemporary idols — Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Taylor Swift — have their turn. Whether their music will still sound as fresh fifty years hence is anybody’s guess. But you could make the same argument about, say, Monteverdi, whose operatic masterpiece L’incoronazione di Poppea went into a three-century-long hibernation after his death, only to find popular success right around the time the Beatles were recording “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Meanwhile, I’ll admit that my hoard of memorabilia functions quite literally as a fetish object: a magical means of accomplishing an impossible end, which is stopping time.

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