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Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Beatles Education

New video game The Beatles: Rock Band released today
Help! My youngest son is becoming the world’s biggest Fab Four fan.

With the launch of Beatles Rockband in September, he’s joined many middle school teens who are discovering the mop-haired Liverpudlians for the first time. He spends his allowance on Beatles CDs, scours YouTube for videos of Beatles concerts and rare interviews–and spouts Beatles trivia with the best of them.

“Dad, did you know Ringo’s real name is Richard Starkey and he was left-handed, but had a right-handed drum kit?”

Needless to say the Let it Be, Help!, Revolver, The Beatles Past Masters albums are getting a lot of airplay in the car and at home. Not that I mind, because the stuff is absolutely brilliant and so catchy my brain is now fairly perforated with hooks.

Besides, who can resist even awkward German versions of I Want to Hold Your Hand (Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand) and She Loves You (Sie Liebt Dich)?

Now, I did have something to do with my younger son’s deep dive into the Liverpool quartet. After tiring of repeated remarks about John, Paul, George and Ringo being “stupid,” I launched a video of the Beatles live at Shea Stadium on my iPhone with the rejoinder, “Let me show you how popular these guys were.”

The kid was impressed.

So, that night we poked around a bit more and laid the foundation for an interest in the group. Next came a trip to Rogers to snag a copy of the Beatles Rockband for PlayStation 3. And before you know it, son and I were bashing away to Octopus’s Garden and Back in the USSR on plastic instruments.

Learning Workout
The game is brilliant because of the real education it imparts to anyone who engages with it. This is far from passive learning. Besides having a huge fun factor, the game’s biographical notes, superb graphics, and story mode–including concerts you play at the Cavern, on Ed Sullivan; and at Shea Stadium, Bokudan, Abbey Road and the famous Apple Corp. rooftop–all ensure an energetic mental and physical workout.

The game is an immersion course in Beatles 101. It not only appeals to the intellect, but weaves its rhythms into your fingers, hands and feet.

Since my son and I have crossed Abbey Road together, I’ve had a flood of memories of everything from the Saturday morning animated Beatles cartoons, to licorice Beatle records (seriously), to the glossy autographed pictures I sent away for when I was a kid.

Now, my son adds to my Beatles education every few days with gems like, “Did you know Rolling Stone named Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as the number one album of all time out of a list of 500, back in 2003?”

No, actually. I didn’t know that.

But it reminds me of another question that brought a smile to my face.

A teacher recently told me of how he was once approached by a breathless middle school girl who gasped, “Mr. so-and-so, Mr. so-and-so…Did you know that Paul McCartney was actually in another band before Wings?”



  1. Long live the Beatles! Greatest band ever! Nice post, Ray. Now I am thinking maybe I shoudl start a blog too - now that I am getting full into this PLN thing!

  2. Thanks much, Mike. Ditto on the Beatles--and your future blog ; )