Fifty years ago, The Beatles tragically left us, after changing the world for almost a decade.
And what they left us with, like much of what they made, sequenced the genes for the recombined culture to come.
Let It Be, released half a century ago today, was a repurposed transmedia experiment, equal parts remixed sonics — culled from what John Lennon called the “shittiest load of badly recorded shit” the Beatles ever made — and reality programming documenting the fragmentation of The Fab Four in real-time. Let It Be, the frustrating documentary released shortly after the band had broken up and eventually locked away in a vault, reached theaters days after Let It Be, the album that was shamefully locked away while The Beatles were still a band.
Both post-mortem reconstructions painfully, if accidentally, warned fans and scholars of The Beatles that the globally galvanizing sixties would be followed by a more depressing seventies, a greater disintegration that mirrored the quartet’s own. It is no accident that both still struggle to find fully forgiving audiences, and likely still will until director Peter Jackson’s sunnier revision of Let It Be’s downbeat documentary arrives in September from, of all place, Walt Disney Studios.
A decade ago, I started a series, called Geek The Beatles, to mark the creation of the most influential band on the planet. I started with Let It Be‘s recombined reality programming, and eventually expanded my scope to include interviews with Paul McCartney and many more, including the sons of John Lennon and George Harrison. My analyses of The Beatles’ innovations across culture and media and politics and more showed up at Wired, CNN, Salon, and elsewhere.
I collected almost all of them here at Morphizm, and I’m adding more every month. Check out some of them below, and even more at Geek The Beatles.