It is 50 years since the Beatles released Love Me Do, and there is an interesting perspective on this from Hunter Davies. He will be part of a celebration in Savile Row today, attending on behalf of Dutch TV.
Davies comments that Beatlemania is much stronger abroad. Outside Britain they are 'more knowledgeable, enthusiastic, less cynical, less blase.' The Beatles were not my generation, and while I have to acknowledge their massive significance this has never approached love. Maybe being British we do just take them for granted.
A couple of months back I was on a work trip to Liverpool. We had found a pub in the centre of town to watch the England game, and after that wondered what we should do. Somebody (not me) suggested going to the Cavern Club (not the original one, just nearby).
On stage there was a local guy banging away at a big acoustic guitar. He had a good but unexceptional voice cracking out Beatles standards. The audience contained few English people, and very few Liverpudlians. So I was about to file away the experience under 'tacky tourist traps (Beatles).'
But after a couple of songs I realised something very odd was taking place. This was not a conventional gig where an artist performs for an audience. The man on stage was more akin to a preacher leading the worship. Because the gaggle of nations present (Spain, Italy, Japan..) in a natural and completely uncynical way had come to share their love for The Beatles music. The ages ranged from those old enough to have conceivably seen the Beatles play, to some who were probably a bit young to be in a bar at 11pm. People sang along, sang to each other. They knew the words and the songs and were enjoying sharing that. The man on stage was simply conducting this orchestra.
So I think Hunter Davies has got a lot right. Maybe some of the Beatles ongoing relevance is that their music has this huge reach, we are just a bit blase about it.