By Michael W. Harris
Back when I was teaching rock history at the University of Colorado, I used to end my lecture on the Beatles with the summation that they were the most influential band in rock history. Full stop. That every artists who was serious about writing and recording pop music, regardless of how they actually felt about the Beatles, would have to at least reckon with them and form an opinion. Love them or hate them, if you were to be a serious pop artist, you had to know the Beatles to either be influenced by them or to reject them.
However, before I ever taught that lecture, I also had to form my own opinion on the group. Sure, as any musician living in a post-Beatles world, and especially as one who grew up listening to rock of the ’60s thanks to my parents, I “knew” the Beatles. I knew the big hits from their early years, knew the weird tracks from the White Album (and would also tell you that it was actually called The Beatles when I wanted to be pretentious), and listened to Sgt. Pepper’s on a semi-regular basis. I absolutely adored Abbey Road and would sing the praises of the medley that took up side two, and was divided as to the legacy of Let It Be. But I did not truly know their entire catalog and was woefully understudied when it came to any of their pre-Sgt. Pepper’s albums. I “knew” the Beatles, but I didn’t really know the Beatles.
So, when I finally set about teaching my first semester of rock history and planned to spend a week’s worth of class time on the music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I faced the fact that I had to finally sit down and listen to their complete catalog. In doing so, I stumbled upon a two-minute-Mozartian-miniature of perfection. A simple, lilting, wonderfully lyric and floating tune from Revolver titled “For No One.” Continue reading “Two Minutes of Perfection: The Beatles’ “For No One””