Thursday, October 15, 2009

White Album

The Beatles are undoubtedly one of the most famous and influential bands of the 1960s. They changed the world of music, by writing and recording their own music, which was unheard of at the time. Their music was revolutionary and often held political and cultural meanings. Whether their compositions were political parodies, tributes, or influential pieces on change, they were always creative and captured the hearts of millions. One of their most prominent albums was “The Beatles” album, more commonly known as the “White Album”, as it has no text other than the band’s name on its plain white sleeve. Overall, I believe this album was very powerful because it displayed political parodies, national changes and Indian culture in the form of thought provoking and catchy songs.

The White Album was released on November 22, 1968. The fact that the album cover was a plain white sleeve served a symbolic purpose. The band was struggling through difficult times, in which each artist pursued his own vision. In fact, the album was a double album, because all the members insisted on having their favorite songs included on the album. Although the White Album was a fantastic album, every member of the Beatles would agree that it was not the most pleasant album to make. I believe that this album could have been better, had the Beatles recorded it under better circumstances.

The White Album begins with “Back in the U.S.S.R”. This is a very catchy song, which is a tribute to Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” The song opens and closes with the sound of a jet aircraft landing, referring to the dreadful flight back to the U.S.S.R from Miami Beach. “Back In The U.S.S.R” was a parody of the Beach Boys song, in which Paul McCartney enjoyed singing about places in the Ukraine as though they were part of California. I like this song and the Beach Boys parody that they created. It proves that the Beatles had a huge fan base, even in the U.S.S.R, and they were trying to please them as well.

The second song on The White Album is “Dear Prudence.” This song is about Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence whom the Beatles met when they visited India and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Prudence, who was focused on transcendental meditation stayed in her room for the majority of their stay. John Lennon was worried that she was depressed and wrote this song for her, hoping she would “come out to play”. This song is really interesting and shows the Beatles interest in Indian culture and transcendental meditation. The melody is very tranquil and the lyrics are interesting when related to Indian culture and transcendental meditation.
“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is about Richard A. Cooke III, who was also present during the Beatle’s stay in India. The lyrics “Hey Bungalow Bill, what did you kill”, refer to the time when Richard went hunting for tigers on an elephant. One of the tigers obstructed his path, and he quickly shot it. At first, he was proud of what he had done, but later on he realized what he did was wrong, and decided not to hunt again after that incidence. John Lennon wrote this song mocking the irony of Richard A. Cooke, because he would kill animals, and come back to commune with God. Although the lyrics are very clever, I did not enjoy this song, because of the repetitive melody. I felt like this song was very different from the other Beatles songs, because it did not have a very good melody.
“Happiness is A Warm Gun” is one of my favorite songs on this album. Like most of the Beatle’s songs, it is very good, but this one is different, because there are so many different moods to it. The song begins with drums, bass, and a distorted guitar and presents a melancholy type of mood. The song transitions into “I Need a Fix” which is a very low and intense portion of the song, and the song continues and climaxes into the chorus. Throughout all of this, the lyrics are creative and fascinating, keeping your attention the whole song. The title of the song is such an insane thing to say, because a warm gun infers that the gun was recently shot. Lennon was captured by this title when he saw it on the cover of a gun magazine. There have been many interpretations of this song. Some believe it was related to Lennon’s heroin addiction during the recording of the White Album. The “gun” would be a loaded syringe that Lennon possibly used to inject the drug. Evidence of this includes the lyrics “I need a fix cause I’m going down, back to the bits that I left uptown.”

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is the seventh track on the album and was written by George Harrison. George Harrison drew inspiration for this song from the idea of relativism. He took this concept to his home one day, and decided to write a song from the first words that he found in a book; these words happened to be “gently weeps”. This is another one of my favorite songs from the White Album, because the guitar solo and background music is really great. The lyrics in this song are very powerful. “Love there that’s sleeping,” refers to unexpressed love in the world, and “they bought and sold you”, which is a comment about people (possibly even The Beatles) being used. The song creates a melancholy mood, talking about how the world is lacking love and peace. Although most people may think this song is too sad, I feel like it is accurate. There were so many conflicts occurring during this time, and George Harrison was able to make people realize how bad the world has become with one remarkable song.

The White Album was created and produced during some of the most difficult times for the Beatles. They were going through some very difficult times and under these circumstances they produced an excellent album that is still famous today. It raised awareness for political and cultural events, in the form of interesting and excellent songs. It truly was one of the best albums produced by the Beatles, and to this day is still very popular and well known. Although The Beatles are not at their peak anymore, the White Album will continue to remain close to the hearts of millions.

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