Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Beatles and MTV

With the Beatlemania, now a global phenomenon, The Beatles were exhausted and yet were constantly being asked to appear on television programs all across the globe.  They simply couldn’t be everywhere.  And then there is the added issue of the music.  As the band progressed, so did the technology used to create the music.  Soon, The Beatles were using tape loops, over-dubbing, and other in-studio effects.  And while this helped progress the sound and the music, it made it difficult to tour and perform live.  And so, as George Harrison explains, out of “convenience we decided we are just not gonna go in to the TV studios to promote our records so much.  It was too much of a hassle, what we’ll do is just go and make our own little films and we’ll put them out” (qtd. in Anthology DVD).  

And so began the period when The Beatles created promotional films of their singles.  As Neil Aspinall (The Beatles’s road manager turned executive) explains, “so to accommodate those people [at the televisions shows around the world] we decided to make promo films…and sent that to the TV stations around the world and that would fulfill that obligation” (qtd. in Anthology DVD).  For instance, the singles “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” (also later “Hello Goodbye”) were sent via promotional films to The Ed Sullivan Show with an introduction of the four Beatles apologizing for not being in attendance (Anthology DVD).  

These films were the start of something new for the music industry: music videos.  The Beatles would sometimes be seen playing their instruments and singing their songs as though performing on a stage.  However, many of the promotional films were much more artistic, with the band not singing or playing, but embodying an abstract story related to the song.  The idea of taking abstract images and combining them with music was new.  As George Harrison describes the intention, “[we thought] we’ll send these things out to promote the record.  And obviously these days now everybody does that, its just part of your promotion for a single.  So I suppose in a way we invented MTV” (qtd. in Anthology DVD).  And while that last statement may be grandiose, The Beatles certainly invented (and were the first to use these techniques on a large scale) the basic building blocks of what would become the music video which led to MTV and to how the music industry functions today. 

Check out the promo for "Day Tripper" here:
Check out the promo for "Paperback Writer"here:
Check out the promo for "Hello Goodbye" here:

-The Beatles Anthology, Dir. Kevin Godley 
-Blaney, John.  John Lennon: In His Life.
-Davies, Hunter. The Beatles.
-Miles, Barry.  Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. 

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