When you think of The Beatles today, it’s hard not to get lost in the image of the innocent and sweetly sarcastic four moptops running around while “Can’t Buy Me Love” plays loudly. Yet, The Beatles were more than that; they probably were the most important artists to come out of the last century. In only ten years, they created a wealth of music and cultural influence that is still impacting and inspiring people today… Basically, I am not saying anything here we haven’t read or heard before since their break up almost forty years ago.
The fact is, because of all of this, who wouldn’t want their kids to grow up with an appreciation of their music? Their music is a gateway to all of the different facets of popular and rock music. The problem is there is also quite a dark side to their music. From the drug references in “I’m Only Sleeping,” the one-night stand in “Norwegian Wood,” the suicide in “A Day in the Life,” and the references to violence in “Come Together” (John keeps repeating “shoot me” for those that don’t know; disturbing isn’t it?), the real Beatles and their music was never as innocent as our collective consciousness likes to remember…. Oh, and you’ll never listen to “Penny Lane” the same way again once you find out what “finger pies” are (Well, I did warn you, I didn’t force you to just Google it).
That’s okay, there is dark and light throughout life, but who doesn’t want their children to bask in the innocence for at least a little while? And really there is enough in The Beatles catalogue to create a fun atmosphere around the playroom and backyard, without a worry about having to explain exactly what is leaking out of the dead dog’s eye in “I Am the Walrus.” Here are four recommendations for introducing your children to the greatest musical artists of the last century:
There are a lot of really, really, really bad knock-off Beatles CDs for kids. Heck, you can even find Elmo singing “Drive My Car” if you want to (which I believe opens the door to a wealth of questions regarding Elmo’s age, relationships, and ability of a little muppet to operate a vehicle legally). Bedtime With the Beatles is the best, not only respecting the source material but finding ways to celebrate the melodies. Heck, even Paul McCartney liked it, claiming the sequel CD put him to sleep (You have to love that Liverpool humor).
My wife and I used this CD as a bedtime signal for our first born, putting on the CD helped him start to wind down and get ready to sleep. Because of this Pavlov dog-like conditioning, my wife and I have also been affected and when songs pop on our ipod shuffle, it can impair driving ability or concentration. You have been warned.
I hate compilations. There is always something missing. I grew up owning the Red Album and Blue Album compilations, but never felt satisfied by them. This CD tries to stay clear of the “Best of” transgression, by stating these are only the songs that reached number 1.
Besides John shouting “Christ” in The Ballad of John & Yoko (which some of the religious readers may take offense to), this is a pretty clean recording filled with a collection of 27 very friendly songs. It even includes “Yellow Submarine,” a song we parents have to accept begrudgingly from time to time.
Wow, is this game fun. And you can even buy online the complete Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Rubber Soul to add to the music mix.
While visually entertaining and exciting to watch, it is also a trip to sing and perform. My son, even though he is only three, has been known to try and sing along and even play the guitar.
Probably of all of the options on this list, this best introduces the energy and essence that is The Beatles and puts you in the middle of it… and which Beatles fan doesn’t want to own a plastic version of Paul or George’s guitar? Okay, maybe that last bit is just me.
The Beatles- A Hard Day’s Night
Forget the visual mess that is Yellow Submarine and the out-dated Help! (I’m not even going to reference Magical Mystery Tour), this movie is genius. Roger Ebert called it “one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies” and in my opinion he is right.
It is enjoyable from beginning to end and the plot is not complicated at all. It is one day in the life of the Beatles (I avoided saying “A Day in the Life”) and the ruckus around them just wanting to have fun while they are preparing for a TV performance in the evening. Oh, and at one point Ringo feels unwanted and sad… But the rest of the film is about having a good time, friends, and great music.
The only questionable thing I can even think of is John pretending to snort “coke” from a coca-cola bottle, but what kid is going to catch that subtle drug reference? (And if your young one can catch the reference I can not help you.) The rest is pure cinematic bliss.
Finally, in regards to their actual CDs, I lean towards the earlier years when playing for kids. Please Please Me captures the addictive energy of those early days and for the fan you can’ help but be stunned that it was recorded in only one day.
Goo goo g’joob.