"How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin"
February 27, 2014
I just watched the PBS broadcast of Leslie Woodhead's "How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin," the thesis of which is that the Beatles did more than Western propaganda to dismantle the USSR. Interviewees avow that such was the case.
The sad thing is that people in a stifled culture do not fully appreciate that it is not the greatest purveyors of a thing that hold the power of that thing; it is the thing itself. The Beatles may have been the messengers to the USSR, but it was rock'n'roll that did the trick.
We see the process now and again in
which someone comes along and does a thing better than anybody else —at least in the general public's consciousness— and that person becomes the thing itself. Muhammed Ali changed boxing, and boxing for a while could be defined (in public consciousness) not as "the sport of pugilism" but "what Muhammed Ali does." The process happens because it is the hero of a sphere of endeavor who introduces the majority to that sphere.
Jonas Salk did not defeat polio; his vaccine did. He is indeed a hero, but he had predecessors and collaborators and catalysts and competitors, just as did Ali and just as did the Beatles.
It was the liberating force of rock'n'roll that helped to dismantle the Commie monster, not the Fab Four. They were probably the best —and obviously the most successful— representatives of that force in the USSR, with good reason. After all, if you are going to risk arrest to copy some music, will you choose the Four Seasons or the Fab Four?
I make the distinction (between the Beatles and the power of music) here because I really like these guys. With very hard work and a great love of life, fun, and each other, these uneducated townies conquered rock'n'roll and brought sexiness to universally accepted ideas of peace and love. After John's murder and George's stabbing, they have been burdened quite enough by the public without being further held culpable for any political upheavals. What next? Should we ask Ringo and Paul to be geopolitical strategists? The Fabs made a fantastic and unexcelled contribution to the soundtrack of our lives; isn't that enough?