Beatles Day: The Fab Four on Europeana

10th July is Beatles Day, a celebration of the Beatles‘ triumphant return to Liverpool from their 1964 US tour, just in time for the premiere of their film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ at the Odeon Cinema. This day is considered one of the landmarks in their long and winding road to fame. Since 2008, its anniversary has been celebrated as Beatles Day in both Liverpool and Hamburg, the cities where the Fab Four laid the foundations for their stardom.

The Cavern Club

The Cavern Club, one of the Beatles’ most famous venues.

Image by George M Goutas, available under a  
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Despite only being together for seven years, the Beatles took the world by storm, working eight days a week, travelling here, there and everywhere, and fast becoming one of the most commercially successful, critically acclaimed and influential pop groups in history.

Europeana contains a variety of Beatles information, including lots of audio-visual content. There are over 100 videos from the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, including footage of the hysteria of a 1965 New York concert at which fans twist and shout so much the band cannot be heard, a French news broadcast announcing the separation that marked the end of the group’s time together, a post-Beatles interview with John Lennon, and news of the 1994 launch of the double CD, ‘Live at the BBC’.

Photographs from the Dutch National Archive include stills from the set of the film ‘Help!’, and snaps from one of the group’s visits to the Netherlands.

Audio-wise, there’s a Spanish programme from Radio Castellón Cadena SER dedicated to the Beatles, a Beatles for Babies album, and many covers of Beatles songs by other artists, including ‘Mozart meets the Beatles’ by  St Martin’s Symphony of Los Angeles.

On a more academic level, there are works from paperback writers such as a thesis on the economic value of the Beatles to a declining Liverpool, and a study about rock music and youth culture.

And if you’re just not into the Beatles the band, there’s always info available on Europeana about beetles the insects, so come and get it!


Image from the Rijksmuseum – Public Domain.

4 thoughts on “Beatles Day: The Fab Four on Europeana

  1. I’m probably not the first to note that the Beatles were together for over 10 years from the Lennon/Harrison/Sutcliffe/Best lineup of 1960 to McCartney’s request for legal dissolution of the partnership on 31 Dec. 1970.

    Aside from that, I’m looking forward to seeing the goodies you’ve posted!

  2. A little poem about the Fabulous Four:


    This wonderful English Group
    Was better than all of YouTube.
    They created a brand-new sound,
    A modern guitar style was found.
    John,Paul,George and Ringo
    Started their glorious Show.

    Four nice boys from Liverpool,
    Always smart and very cool;
    Became heroes in Great Britain
    With titles they’ve brilliant written;
    From “Please,please me” to “Let it be”
    Music in perfect harmony.

    They dominated the global Charts,
    Till today they take to our hearts.
    The songs are heard around the earth
    By old Hippies just as young Nerds.
    Their music will be forever,
    The Fab Four we’ll forget never.

    Rainer Kirmse , Altenburg / Thuringia | Germany

    With kind regards

  3. Lennon´s music will age better than McCartney´s, because Lennon´s compositions have more pain and heaviness, and besides that, are more innovative. McCartney has often conventional and “vertical” melodies, and Lennon has both vertical and “horizontal” melodies”.

    The greatness of John Lennon´s music as i see it:
    –His increasing tension. For example I Should Have Known Better. Before Lennon, all pop music structure was AABA, where the tension decreased in the middle part B. But with Lennon the tension from the verse continued in the middle part. Besides that, in this song it is not only a key change in the transition to the middle part, it is even a little key change in it. The increasing tension was what first characterized The Beatles. The first single where the verse lacked this increasing tension was the vers melody in Can´t Buy Me Love.
    – Other ways of increase the tension by Lennon is to pack together several little songs. Happiness Is A Warm Gun consists of three or four songs, and Bring On The Lucie consists of three songs.
    –All You Need Is Love has another way: First talking, then repeating half singing, then singing, and finally the climax in chorus.
    –The melody does not changes, but the chords in the background. For example in Strawberry Fields Forever and in Julia the singing melody uses the same notes, but instead the accompaniment changes! Listen to Puccini. He got tired of his sang melodies in Boheme and in Tosca he composed a lot where the sang melodies are often on the same notes, but the background changes instead. The effect can be stronger.
    –Octave Leap. For example, in the middle part of Please Please Me, Lennon makes an octave run in “…it´s so hard to reason with YOU…”, the climax of the song. George Martin didn´t understand the quality in that. In his orchestration of it in Off The Beatle Track, Martin excludes the octave, the most important bit of the song!
    –Verse and resolve. Typical for Lennon is a melody followed by a resolve, for example in No Reply “…I saw the light!”…and in Girl “giiirl! giiirl!…”. Lennon said that “a good song must have climax and resolve”.
    –Only one chord. In Tomorrow Never Knows there is only one chord, or bass note, an innovation in pop music. In the Middle Ages it was common with that bordun note, an unchanged bass note. When Lennon played the song the first time for George Martin, Martin didn´t like it.
    –Whole-tone scale. Most scales have both whole step and half steps between the notes in an octave. In the verse in Norwegian Wood, there is most whole steps, and that´s like the impressionists, for example Debussy. It sounds very “clean”.
    –Church Modes. A Hard Day´s Night is written in the “mixolydian mode”, an ancient vocal scale, preserved in British, Irish and American folk song. –If you play the beginning of Please Please Me very fast, you can hear the similarities with the Westminster bells ringing. When Lennon was a little boy, he loved visiting the divine services. Afterwards he used to improvise anthem music. Westminster bells could unconsciously have inspired him to the beginning of Please Please Me. There is also anthem music in the beginning of All You Need Is Love: “love love love…”.
    –The lamentation second. A little half step up in the scale. And that´s to indicate a pain. In All You Need Is Love Lennon sings the refrain twice unchanged and then suddenly the third time, rises a little, a very expressive and important step up. That step up started in the baroque epoch, and was called The lamentation second. When Lennon played it the first time to George Martin, Martin didn´t understand it. He leaned towards McCartney and muttered: “It´s certainly repetitive”.
    –From darkness to light. Happiness Is a Warm Gun starts with a little melancholy, and ends with enthusiasm.—In the middle part of I Am The Walrus the darkness switches over to light: “sitting in an English garden…”. And the transition from the chaos and darkness in Revolution 9 to the light in Good Night. That is very typical in Wagner´s music. I think that temperamentally the two were similar. And I think Wagner would have loved the arrangement in Glass Onion.
    –Suggestive and hypnotic music. With small intervals between the notes in combination with some dissonance chord, Lennon can create a suggestive and hypnotic feeling in for example Across The Universe. It is more like Wagner than pop music.
    –Few notes. With few, but effective notes, Lennon can create more feeling than McCartney with all his notes, for example in If I Fell and Love. –A melody sang three times, in succession, with just a little change every time. When you hear it you can get frustrated or desperate not getting out from the melody. That we have in the middle part in I Call Your Name and in the middle part in And Your Bird Can Sing. And at the same time the melodies are stick together with a countermelody at the guitar. Rather hypnotic
    –Melodies without joint. An innovation. When repeating the verse melody in Any Time At All, the first note is the same note as the last note in the first verse: “…there is nothing I won´t DO if need a shoulder to cry on…”
    –The accompaniment doesn´t follow the vocal line. In the middle part of Hey Bulldog, the piano doesn´t follow the singer. An innovation in pop music. (The first one was Schumann in his songs). It´s a marvelous bit of beautiful piano music, but the recording isn´t good here, the piano is difficult to hear. That bit is much better heard in a demo!
    –The first rap song. The talking in the end of Hey Bulldog.

    –The screaming, ending Hey Bulldog. In combination with the repeating melody in the guitarplaying in the background as if nothing has happened — that is great hypnotic music.
    –The most excellent and lovely melodies: The middle part of Bad to Me, the middle part of This Boy, the middle part of Yes it Is and the middle part of Nobody Loves You.

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