Natalie Linsdell compares Brisbane 1964 to today, and investigates whether the rules of Beatlemania would still apply.
The 50th anniversary of Beatlemania sending Brisbane into a frenzy of screaming teens and hotel break-ins has come and gone. Thanks to advances in technology, Australia found itself able to get caught up in the cultural movements of America and the UK and as a result Australian’s were just as mad about John, Paul, George and Ringo as anyone else in the world. Although the Beatles are still industry leaders as one of the greatest musical acts of our time, it’s worth considering how we’ve changed over the past 50 years, and if the Beatles’ time was now, would they share in the same successes?
Many kids grew up knowing Ringo Starr as the familiar voice of Thomas the Tank Engine. Getting Better was just the theme song of Better Homes and Gardens rather than Lennon’s reflections on his violent relationships, and Paul McCartney was introduced to the majority of young’uns via the Simpsons. I discovered their timeless and eclectic sound later in life, and was amazed at how many of their tracks were so familiar from being used in ads, or being covered by more recent acts. I’m not alone. In a world filled with One Direction, many have turned to the music of their parents, and many of the messages of the 60’s are still incredibly relevant.
It was a time when the White Australia policy was on the way out, and women were making a place for themselves in the workforce. The birth control pill liberated us sexually, and our involvement in the Vietnam War outraged the community. People became aware of our negative impacts on the environment and started doing something about it. ‘Free love, peace and equality’ was the message that was sung from the rooftops and flowed through the veins of the vocal youth. Today we are still fighting the battle for equal rights for the LGBT community, refugees, and our own indigenous people, western governments are still trying to ‘fix the problems’ in the middle east, environmental sustainability is a huge problem no-one does much about, and all the while, popular artists are singing about boys they like and getting drunk in the club.
Personally, I think we’ve gone a bit soft.
For the most part, if we ever do find ourselves outraged by the government (which is regularly) we’re more likely to share a link on Facebook and pat ourselves on the back for being political rather than taking to the streets like Mum and Dad did. Let’s be real: even the fashion choices of today don’t create that much of a stir. Mum was wearing miniskirts and Dad had long hair and wore skinny jeans before I was so much as a twinkle in the eye. The top moneymaking artist is currently Taylor Swift, and as much as we love Tay Tay, when you get down it, her work all sounds the same. Even the artists nipping at her heels like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake are equally guilty of playing it safe. For music that pushes sound boundaries and experiments with textures and vibes you need to look underground.
Honestly, if the Beatles began today, I think that’s where you’d find them. Underground.
Maybe it’s time for the summer of love to make a comeback. For us to put down the computer and make some noise, whether it be noise against injustice, or in support of artists that push the boundaries and try something different. The next time Tony Abbott does something stupid (and we won’t be waiting long), don’t tweet, demonstrate. Be the change that you want your kids to be proud of. All you need is love.