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The Beatles: Were the Liverpool Four Left or Right?

50 years after their breakup, The Beatles are still one of the most well-known and influential bands in history

[Leer en español]

Paul McCartney has just released his latest studio album, “McCartney III”. It is his eighteenth solo work. In fact, it is totally solo. Like “McCartney I” (1970) and “McCartney II” (1980), this album is performed, produced and recorded by himself alone in his studio.

Despite this demonstration of individual ability as a musician, Paul McCartney’s name will always be linked to the group of his youth, The Beatles. 50 years after their separation, The Beatles are still one of the best known and most influential bands in history.

Frame from the official trailer of McCartney III. (YouTube)

Who would have thought that a group of young people from the suburbs of a port town like Liverpool would be able to shake up the world with their music and become the biggest music band of all time?

No one. Nor would they themselves. The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison meant that the British musical invasion of America was beginning. But, more importantly, they came to remind us that hard work and constant perseverance, despite everything, are synonymous with success. No matter how long it takes, you have to keep going.

In 1963 they were literally the kings of music throughout the UK. Their singles Love Me Do, She Loves You, From Me to You and I Want to Hold Your Hand took them to an imperious peak from which today, more than 50 years later, they are not ready come down.

In 1964 they got off the plane on American soil. A frenzied crowd of young people was waiting for them with signs and many unbridled shouts. Men and women alike. The four hairy men from Liverpool had already said that if they did not reach number 1 in the United States, they would not travel. A clear goal had been set, which was also a brilliant marketing strategy. Until finally, on February 7th, they achieved it and the British landing began.

Not only was I Want to Hold Your Hand a success in the land of freedom, but their first album Please, Please Me, too.

During their career, The Beatles did and did not do as they pleased. With a childhood marked by World War II (Lennon was born in October 1940 during an air raid), in a Liverpool destroyed by German bombers and the poverty that accompanies a belligerent territory, were not enough reasons for four young people to forget their dreams of “being bigger than Elvis Presley”.

Liverpool, in those conditions, would become in a few years the “Mecca” of Rock & Pop. Its famous Mathew Street and the mythical The Cavern Club would house and give joy to millions and millions of fans of the English band, to become one of the main tourist centers of Great Britain. In that sense, its main economic source is tourism thanks to the fans who decide to visit year after year the county of Mersey Side and its Mersey sound. Thus, at present it is the sixth most visited city in the United Kingdom and one of the 100 most visited cities in the world by international tourists. And all this -we can’t deny it- is thanks to The Beatles.

Beatles,
“But, more importantly, they come to remind us that hard work and constant perseverance, despite everything, are synonymous with success. No matter how long it takes, you have to keep going.” (Flickr)

But before it was that “mecca”, it was a boring, gray, impoverished suburb. Practically finished by the whips of war and marginality. However, the Liverpoonians had two wonderful ingredients to get through all that trouble and get on with their lives: humor and a little music that crossed the ocean in the form of a vinyl record, almost hidden in boats from the land of the Statue of Liberty.

But in truth they only had to wait a few years until the process was reversed and the British take-off of four young people from there exported their music to the entire globe with the Mersey Beat in their veins and turned the whole world upside down with their songs.

Such was their fame and success that they were considered very influential politically, especially among the young. Some of their statements and attitudes seemed progressive, hence they were always associated with the left and Communism. Conservatives did not like John Lennon’s statements that they were “more popular than Jesus Christ,” or his use of LSD.

But were The Beatles as leftist as they are thought to be?

The Beatles: John Lennon and politics

Although John Lennon’s name is associated with Progressivism, especially since Imagine has become something of a Communist anthem (“imagine no possessions, and no religion too”), the truth is that throughout his career, The Beatles, but especially, a twenty-year-old John Lennon, managed to praise capitalism and the generation of wealth with songs like: Money That’s All I Want published in 1963 in his second album “With The Beatles.”

“The best things in life are free. But you can keep them for the birds and bees. Now give me money, (That’s what I want)” and “Your lovin’ gives me a thrill. But your lovin’ don’t pay my bills” say the lyrics.

Fred Seaman, who was John Lennon’s last personal assistant until his assassination in 1980, made a statement for a documentary in which he claimed that John, in his final years of life, turned his political ideology toward conservatism.

He changed so much that he apparently said he was going to vote for Ronald Reagan and made fun of his own leftist views as a youth, ashamed of having been so naive.

The Beatles: Ringo Starr and the Government

Taxman, written by the quiet Beatle, George Harrison, and published in 1966 in the album “Revolver” is a bitter criticism of taxes.

In the first stanza the song beautifully attacks taxes: “There’s one for you, nineteen for me ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman.” And then it goes on to say:”If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.”

When they began to make money, they realized the damage to private property that statism produced, and neither lazy nor dull The Beatles composed this song against the tax collectors.

One of the most outspoken band members against taxes and governments was Ringo Starr. Ringo used to talk about this with the band’s biographer, Hunter Davies. In 1967 Ringo declared that “[the government] can’t make anything work. Buses, trains. None of it works. Everything the government touches turns to shit, not gold.”

The Beatles: George Harrison and Capitalism

Almost as well known for his spiritual side as for his musical side, George Harrison always had an aura of mysticism since his encounter in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In those days everything related to Indian spirituality was linked to counter-cultural and Marxist movements. Not without reason.

The reality is that George Harrison did not get much involved in politics and rather used the tools of capitalism and the free market to help get business and cultural projects off the ground, so he became a film producer.

Few people know this, but the famous and controversial Monty Python film, The Life of Brian, exists because George Harrison financed it when nobody else dared to do so, since because of its religious content it had been blacklisted. Harrison became a champion of free speech using the money that capitalism had gotten him.

The Beatles: Paul McCartney and Communism

In a statement to Televisión Española, Paul McCartney said that capitalism was much better than Communism, which he considered unviable because it tried to impose equality on all human beings, when by nature we are all unequal and unique.

Although good old Paul incurs the hackneyed mantra that “Communism is a good idea in theory, but badly applied in practice,” it is surprising to see a famous artist openly criticize socialist ideas.

For any other singer these statements would have been the commercial death of him. However, Paul McCartney’s musical talent is so great that it protects him against the culture of cancellation, so prevalent on the cultural and media left. Fortunately, it seems that we will continue to enjoy Paul’s music for many years to come, beyond his excellent new album “McCartney III.”

The Beatles were not leftists

Although the cultural left has not missed the opportunity to score with The Beatles, the truth is that if we look at what they really thought and how they acted, the opposite might be said. They covered progressive territory in some respects, but in many others, as we have seen, they occupied a more conservative and classically liberal space.

John Lennon, before he became more conservative, looked like a working-class hero, when in fact he was raised by his middle-class aunt Mimi. In fact, John was the wealthiest of them all before he became famous. According to the 1995 documentary, The Beatles Anthology, John was followed by Paul’s family, and George came from a more humble family. The poorest of them all was Ringo, who saw the futility of government aid.

From a place like Liverpool these four boys managed to get out on the basis of talent, work and taking advantage of the opportunities the market offered them. When someone tells you or you hear that The Beatles was a progressive band, show them this article. Your mother should know about it.

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