The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Monday, February 19, 2001

20 Million Served

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: There is something quite unnerving about the success of the Beatles greatest hits album, One. The album has sold more than 20 million copies world-wide since it was released a little over three months ago, according to the March 1 issue of Rolling Stone. The group is on the cover of that issue with the headline "The World's Hottest Band!" Just prior to the release of One, there was a network TV special on the group and a $60 coffee table book based on interviews with the three surviving ex-Beatles was published. At the Tower Records in Sonoma where I live, after all these months a Beatles display still sits at the front of the store with the book and many of their albums. This group, which broke up 31 years ago, is the most prominently featured artist/band in the entire store. It's not that I have anything against the Beatles or their music. I was a huge Beatles fan; I can still recall how exciting it was as a little kid to see them on "The Ed Sullivan Show." And whenever I hear their songs, I am reminded of what an amazing band they were, and of the contributions they made to our culture. But that was then - an eight-year period that ran from 1963 to 1970. It's history. It's over. I don't want to get nostalgic about the Beatles and the '60s and all the stuff that people who were between about 10 and 25 in 1964 look back on so fondly. And I also don't want the Beatles to be some oldies/good time music band that grandparents and their kids and their kids' kids listen to on the boombox while they have a picnic. Why have 20 million people bought an album of Beatles hits, the last of which charted in 1970? For some, the Beatles represent their lost youth. For others, they are a safe harbor. Their competition in the Top 10 has included products by Eminem, the Backstreet Boys, Limp Bizkit and Creed. No wonder people have run to the mega-marketed music of the Beatles. Are the same people who are buying The Marshall Mathers LP or Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water buying One? Who is buying One> You would think, well, everybody. I, naturally, don't own a copy. Why would I need one, I own all the Beatles' albums - in both CD and vinyl form. I guess there's a whole bunch of people who look at One as a kind of Beatles mix tape. That makes no sense to me. The Beatles made albums, great albums. Particularly by the time they got to Beatles '65 and Beatles VI (but even the early albums hold up really well as albums), their albums were meant to be listened to as albums - the placement of each song in context with the other songs was important and added to the experience. Collecting songs onto one album because they were radio hits makes no sense, at least from an artistic perspective. Certainly there are people discovering the Beatles music for the first time with One. If I were 12, I might find listening to One a revelatory experience. The popularity of these songs right now also is evidence of the timelessness of the music. Still, none of it sits with me very well. There are so many excellent albums that almost no one is buying by artists who have plenty to say right now. It makes me feel kinda sad, all those people buying the same damn collection of old songs. Twenty million people. I'd feel like I was hatched in a mall if I were one of those twenty million, listening to the same thing everyone else is listening to. How totally boring. Sometimes there is something great about a huge community of people having a shared experience. And sometimes it's pathetic. Like being the billionth or so person to eat a Big Mac.

Datastream: The second album by Tram is called Frequently Asked Questions. It includes a beautiful version of Tim Buckley's "Once I Was," produced by John Parish, who plays slide guitar on it. Tram are part of the ambient folk-rock movement that includes Low, Songs: Ohia and Mark Kozelek. ... That new Yahoo!/portal-style home page over at SonicNet is a major improvement. Cool selection of recent reviews too. Now if they could just kill that lame "Me Music. It's Mine." tagline. ... Sound manipulator M. P. Lancaster and the DJ known as Twitch record as the Glasgow-based Mount Florida. Their debut, Arrived Phoenix is a sonic journey that finds them utilizing field recordings, live musicians and other sound sources to winsome ends.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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