The Beatles – December 3, 2001

I feel very fortunate that I got to grow up with the Beatles. I was fourteen when they first came to America, and from that time until they split, they provided a constant soundtrack for the unfolding dramas in my life. They held up an everchanging mirror that I, along with just about everyone in my generation, gazed into daily as we discovered our identities.

The night I saw the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl changed my life. Until then, I liked them just fine, but I had no idea... A friend had a couple of tickets and invited me. I said, "Sure, why not?"  I thought it would be a lark;  we could check out the Beatles, watch the girls scream, maybe get lucky, and if nothing else, get out of the house for a few hours. Little did I know. When the Beatles came out and John launched into Twist and Shout, it was all I could do to keep from jumping up and screaming myself! The Beatles were magic. They blasted me with energy and joy and power that transcended everything I had known up until then. After they made their hasty exit, I drifted home stunned, intuitively knowing that something fundamental had shifted in me and would never be the same again.

Rather than fade with time, the glow of the Beatles continued to brighten as they led the way through uncharted waters. In my personal and musical development, they were profound teachers. Beyond their astounding melodies, harmonies, chord progressions, and instrumentations, here are some of the most important lessons I learned from the Beatles:

Always aim higher. Our generation came to constantly wonder, "What will the Beatles do next?"  The Beatles reached so many new levels at which it would have been easy to rest on their accomplishments, yet they never got stuck. They forged ahead with imagination, daring, and a sense of curiosity and adventure. 

Don't take yourself too seriously. All four of them had a great sense of humor. They had a fantastic ability to explore the depths and the dark, and still laugh. They had fun.

Be true to yourself. The Beatles were great models for this. They had clear identities and strong personalities. They had integrity in their personal lives as well as in their music. Sometimes it got them into trouble, especially when John shot off his mouth, but they erred on the side of honesty, rather than caution and conformity.

There is power in community. The Beatles were bigger than the sum of their parts.  They were four strong, intelligent individuals, four talented musicians, two geniuses, at least two enormous egoes, they had four different styles of playing music, and four ways of looking at the world. Yet for more than ten years, they were able to funnel their energies into a common passion: making great music. Most of us learned only after they separated that Paul softened John's caustic side, that John added grit when Paul got too sugary, that George introduced spiritual exploration to the group. Of course, we knew all along that Ringo was simply fun, and added a sense of play when the other three got too heavy.

Believe in miracles. The Beatles were miraculous. The blends of their voices produced some of the most uplifting sounds I have ever heard. The magical balance that the four of them achieved, their uncanny ability to use music as a positive force and to represent the collective conscience of a generation, and beyond all that, the sheer beauty of their music was nothing less than a miracle.

Play music with heart and intelligence. I hear a lot of music which, while expressing deep feelings, has little musical skill or intelligence to guide it. On the other side, I hear music played with great technique and impressive scholarship, yet it sounds more like an academic exercise than music.  All heart/no head, or all head/no heart. Great music mixes large portions of each and uses them to enhance each other.  The Beatles played great music. 

Keep your perspective; don't forget who you are.  I think it's remarkable that the Beatles experienced unimaginable adulation, the crush of mob scenes wherever they went, treatment fit for kings, the money, the popularity, the worship, all when they were around twenty years old; yet they appeared able to keep their feet on the ground. All four of them seemed in balance most of the time.  They all kept their money. They kept their sense of humor. They valued their families and their privacy. Each one, in his own way,  seemed to deflect the worship, knowing it was a phenomenon not to be taken too personally or seriously. They all seemed to maintain their sense of themselves as human beings.

All you need is love.  Okay, so it sounds a bit naive now. We found out it's not very practical. But on a deeper level, it's still true.

Finally, with George Harrison's passing, we look at his life and his death, and we realize he is still teaching lessons to be learned.  All accounts have said that he died with the same grace, acceptance, and faith that he showed throughout his life.  Goodbye George, and thank you. 

December 3, 2001



Old School, by Paul Chasman and the "Great Gatleys"


Accompanied by Dan and Laurie Gatley on bass and vocals, Paul Chasman returns with 11 new original tunes that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think. With his trademark sparkling guitar at the forefront, Paul’s poetic lyrics contrast life and mortality; grief and celebration; and light that penetrates the dark.