The Rewind Button: The Beatles White Album
This album is called “The Beatles” but really it’s an album by the solo artists: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and, yes, even Ringo Starr. This is their break-up album. Although this wasn’t actually their final album, I consider this their break-up album as it marks the beginning of the end and, that all of them quit at one time or another during the recording process between May and October of 1968. Ringo being the first.
The boys had been through a lot together at this point. They’d grown up. They’d hit the toppermost of the poppermost. They didn’t need to prove or even care to maintain that the Beatles were the biggest band… well, ever. I think, in a way, they knew they’d peaked as a band of recording artists with Pepper (which, according to this list is warranted). So now they just wanted to explore what they had inside themselves as individuals and forget this monster that “the Beatles” had become. They could afford it in time and money just to focus on the creative process and write. They indulged this urge and plenty came out of it. Some excellent. Some not so excellent. And some not so listenable. Producer George Martin wanted to trim this bad boy down and create a single album of the strongest material. But by this time, egos were starting to weigh a little heavier in the process which seems incongruent considering many of the songs were written while in India getting spiritual guidance from the Maharishi.
I have to admit, I enjoy Paul’s material best in this period. “Hey Jude”, though not included on the LP was recorded as a single during these sessions. He wrote some great rockers in “Back in the USSR” and “Helter Skelter”, some interesting piano-driven melodies in “Martha, My Dear” and “Honey Pie”. But his softer ballads, “Mother Nature’s Son”, “Blackbird” and “I Will” are all stand out songs.
Still, I appreciate John stretching the bounds with “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “Sexy Sadie”. And he’s no slouch with pretty songs too. “Dear Prudence” and “Julia” have always been favs.
George kicks up his song writing ability with his strongest material to date with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Even Ringo gets in with a couple ditties. With all the turmoil leading to the eclectic natural of this record. It’s a fitting finish to end it with the innocence of oft maligned Ringo Starr singing a lullabye. Goodnight Ringo. Goodnight Beatles.
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