The Beatles have left an indelible mark on popular culture. Their songs consist of, arguably, some of the most timeless music ever written. Yet, many forget their humble beginnings: they all came from middle-class families in Liverpool, England. From this modest start point, they took over the world with their music and almost overnight it seemed. Fifty years later, it is clear that the influence of the Beatles has barely wavered. It is estimated that the Beatles have sold over two billion albums - the biggest selling artist in music history. Many say that they rocked the world with their music and, with their presence on Spotify and Apple Music, many argue they are still doing so. This class will closely track the Beatles from Liverpool to their premier on the Ed Sullivan Show to India and to London. We will study their lives, their lyrics, and their legacy with a strong focus on their effects on politics, the psychology of their music, and the philosophical implications of their message that rocked the counterculture generation.
The goal of this course is to learn about the Beatles. At the end of this course, students will be able to:
Place the Beatles’ impact and music within the historical framework of the last 50 years
Chart their ascent from middle-class Liverpool to their final days in London
Analyze and critique their music
Discuss their legacy, their wit, and their future in the 21st century
To achieve these objectives, we will: listen to their singles and albums, have in class discussions and lecture, watch video footage, and rely on numerous written sources including articles, essays, excerpts from biographies, and photographic collections.