By: Alexis Meservey
The band originated in Liverpool, England in 1960. They were all from the working class of Northern England, except for John Lennon, who was a part of the upper-middle class. They played together for five years in England before becoming wildly popular in the US.
Reaction of Social Classes
In their early years, The Beatles were not accepted by the higher classes of England because they were from Northern England, where the people were looked at as the uneducated working class. In America, they were accepted by all classes and became instant rockstars because of their creativity and music that was targeted towards everyone. They eventually became greatly popular in all of England as well after the North was starting to be shown as equal to the South through popular television shows and movies. The upper class does not specifically identify themselves with The Beatles.
The music of The Beatles targeted all races and ethnicities around the world. Their music was not limited to one race, as evident by their many international tours. Although their music was loved by most people in America, there were usually not many African Americans at their concerts because they could not afford it.The music actually broke down racial walls because of the black musical forms integrated within rock and roll that most white people had not listened to before.
Impact on National Identity
During the experimentation years of the band, they were a major inspiration for the hippie and Beatnik culture of the 1960s. They also affected the type of music people listened to and produced at that time. They made rock and roll the country's most popular genre. Their music became the soundtrack to the lives and feelings of the American youth at that time. They represented the cultural change in the the young people of America.
When they first arrived in the US, people were surprised by their long hair because they were not used to men having long hair. Their music was considered appropriate for women as well as men because of its non-explicit lyrics, which shows that women were usually shielded from more explicit and vulgar culture.
Impact of Politics
As The Beatles were arriving in the musical scene, a new generation was coming up as well. The "baby-boom" generation was rebellious and there was much political unrest after the Eisenhower presidency which contained a war and a constant threat of a nuclear attack. This rebellious nature and unrest showed through in their musical preferences. Rock and roll allowed the youth to express their rejection of their parents' values and ideas. The outbreak of The Beatles was perfectly timed with the political unrest and the reaction towards it from the youth in America.
The Beatles received backlash only in their later years, when they started experimenting with drugs. Their apparent drug experimentation showed through their new psychedelic music style when they released "Sgt. Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 1967. This helped lead to the drug experimenting culture at the time, which did not sit well with most people of the older generations. They also got backlash when John Lennon referred to them as "bigger than Jesus." This resulted in devout Christians burning their records and a temporary drop in sales. Other backlash they received was during their break up because it ended a musical era for many people.
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