The Beatles and the Glory of Creative Risk

Vincent Ercolano in The Hedgehog Review:

Perhaps it took the roiling events that would give such a manic-depressive quality to 1963––the death in early June of Pope John XXIII (and with it, some feared, the demise of John’s policy of aggiornamento, “updating”); the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in August; the March on Washington the same month; and, in cruel culmination of the year’s roller-coaster ride, the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22––to open the ears (and hearts) of the American public, by year’s end emotionally spent, to the cheeky wit and fresh take on rock ‘n’ roll offered by the Beatles. As Rorem would observe, “Our need for [the Beatles] is…specifically a renewal, a renewal of pleasure.”

While Beatles fans continually renew the pleasure of listening to Please Please Me, whether on smartphones, CDs, or once-again-popular vinyl, perhaps the premier accomplishment of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr was the rocket-like trajectory described by their music in the four years from that first album to the arrival in 1967 of the emotionally complex and musically audacious Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…

More here.