The Beatles satellite radio Sirius XM station

Is this a good idea?  A whole station devoted to Beatles music and Beatles music-derived products, plus a few early musical inspirations?  I ask as a fan, not a critic.  Based on about a week of listening, here are my impressions:

1. No Beatles songs were better live.  Paul McCartney had a few gems in concert, most notably the 1976 Wings over AmericaMaybe I’m Amazed.”  Oddly, “Magneto and Titanium Man” is also better live, perhaps because it was silly to begin with.

2. There are too many extant versions of “Here Comes the Sun,” though Nina Simone had a good one.

3. Ringo songs from the early 1970s, while you would never listen to them voluntarily, hold up OK in this context.

4. The worst feature of the channel is how they use short bursts of Beatle songs to advertise the channel itself.  To play only the first few chords of “Getting Better” is an abuse of the ear and maltreatment of the art, like seeing Mondrian designs on shopping bags.  Why can’t the station just advertise itself by…playing Beatle and Beatle-derived songs?  In their entirety.

5. The last sequence of “Rain” still seem to me their finest moment.  “Let it Be” remains the most overrated major Beatles song.

6. The early solo songs are what are most welcome to hear, at the margin.

7. The way this station operates doesn’t mesh well with the rest of satellite radio.  No single station on satellite radio is that good, except for the classical music station.  Yet the medium as a whole works because you can always switch to another station, especially with voice activation.  Yet one is reluctant to switch away from the Beatles station.  Even if the current song is bad, you feel something wonderful always might be coming up, and besides most of the songs are pretty short and so they will be over soon.  But if it’s just the Beatles you want to hear, you don’t need satellite radio to achieve that end.  So a funny kind of intransitivity kicks in, and maybe the Beatles satellite radio channel can nudge you away from satellite radio altogether, precisely because it is better than all the other channels, and it thus pushes you away from an approach based on a diverse menu of DJ-driven choice.

8. Would it hurt to play more Dylan, a major influence on the Beatles?


I re-listened to the end of Rain. And.... moderate. Like many, a Beatles fan. But pushing back on last sequence of Rain as "their finest moment". Moderately good song by a fine, perhaps greatest of the rock era, band. The outro of Rain though is little better than the main song. Maybe just the fact that since (news flash) the Beatles haven't released new material in nearly 40 years, it's easy to overindex on secondary material. To be clear, Shakespeare has the same problem. As does john phillips sousa. History necessarily takes primary figures and magnifies them for simplicity.

Requisite Harrison quote: "If we'd known we were going to be The Beatles, we'd have tried harder."

Is the average person really over-indexed on secondary Shakespeare material? To me the problem is that there is even any Beatles secondary material. We have no idea if the Beatles will even survive the test of time. It sure doesn't look like rock music will.

You can hear the entire Beatles catalogue in the time it takes to read five Shakespeare plays (for a guy who wrote almost forty plays). That right there creates a pretty huge hurdle to over-indexing on secondary Shakespeare marterial.

More than half the lines in Shakespeare's less great plays (there are about 15 of them that seem to have been written on off days or poorly transcribed) are not worth reading even once, but as it is Shakespeare, you trust him and you don't know that until you have read them a few times. So, assuming the average Shakespeare performance lasts 2.5 hours, and assuming the lines not worth reading are edited out, you could wake up Monday morning, start with the Two Gentlemen of Verona, and reach the end of the Tempest or Henry VIII Tuesday evening - assuming you are still young enough to stay up all night. Assume you do this every year from the age of 20 and you are now a 50 year old Shakespeare scholar. I have no opinion on over-indexing because I am not 50 and I have not read any Shakespeare plays more than 5 times.

Yikes talk about a lot of words not worth reading.

"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

It's a troll trap! Check out Sam Haysom, he sucks.
Seriously, loser who posts, hope someone pays him for being an F Tard.

And he really doesn't understand English or Shakespeare as he is an ass to be rejected.

May Shakespeare's worst line outlive any tweet of any generation!

"We have no idea if the Beatles will even survive the test of time. It sure doesn’t look like rock music will."

How long is the test of time? My high school English teacher argued that classical was music that latest more than 50 years and that rock wouldn't last that long. The Rolling Stones (for one example) have been playing for more than 50 years.

I cancelled my subscription to XM 2 weeks ago. Had to call to do so, no impersonal check box. Got a boatload of discounts I refused.
Lesson? Never take the subscription price, losers. Even could have a freaking XM Radio, a physical devise to move from place to place, for almost free.

The Beatles? Liked them more when FM stations would play "Breakfast with the Beatles." They LOVED the beatles in a way XM never does. Music is a commodity and XM trades it well, but ain't no heart in it.

Twist and shout is better live. And the Beatles version is better than the Isley brothers version.

And of course most of their songs are better recorded the Beatles couldn't even consistently play their later songs without making mistakes. Their composing outstripped their musical abilities. Which kind of says everything that needs to be said about the later Beatles. It was one giant circle jerk.

I'm curious I'm twenty seven and I don't know anyone who listens to the Beatles other than those kids whose comically trying to hard parents essetinally forced them into listening to them.

Do boomers think the Beatles are going to outlive them or do they recognize how much of this is just "back when I had hair" nostalgia?

I suppose nobody your age is listening to Chopin either, unless their parents are trying too hard. Do we need to tell you who that is?

Yikes clearly I hit a nerve. I'm sure no one can tell it's a toupee.

And if you haven't noticed classical music is dying in front of our eyes. So I guess that answers the question the Beatles will occasionally be played on one of the three channels of XM music devoted to rock in 50 years or exactly as many that will be devoted to the NHL.

Well, maybe. The music schools are absolutely packed with young people studying Chopin and his kind. Classical music (or the Beatles) does not have to be a mass taste to survive and thrive.

Are you at all familiar with classical music industry these days? Orchestras are shutting down CDs sales are diving. about the only way to get people to come are by turning orchestras into sting accompaniment to pop songs. It's great that a lot of students love their instruments and are devoted to keeping the art form alive but classical music is well into burning through its accrued asset stage in its life cycle.

My only point was that the notion that the Beatles have a great cultural significance will not survive the boomers and unlike classical music which is (thankfully) kept alive and subsidized beyond its actual demand their really isn't a compelling reason to do that for the Beatles.

"My only point was that the notion that Marx has a great cultural significance will not survive the boomers and unlike The American Founders which are (thankfully) kept alive and subsidized beyond liberty's actual demand, there really isn’t a compelling reason to do that for Socialism."

I agree. Once colleges stop forcing kids to read the socialists, socialism will completely die off.

The NHL will live forever it is the distilled glory of man.

This guy gets it.

Or he is Canadian, Russian, or Czech.

Oops - just Canadian. The Russians and Czechs don't care much about the NHL.

It's a troll trap! Check out Sam Haysom, he sucks.
Seriously, loser who posts, hope someone pays him for being an F Tard.

Yes, little grasshopper. That is how cultural transmission works.

To provide a counter datum, I'm eighteen and my friends listen to the Beatles all the time. To be fair though, my friends are also not exactly the average listeners, since other groups we commonly listen to include Yazoo and ABBA.

Yazoo? Interesting.

Or Yaz, as noted in wikipedia - 'known as Yaz in North America for legal reasons involving Yazoo Records'

But still originally known as Yazoo on WFHS, in those long decades past. And this remains a great song -

Yes. Just thought the choices were interesting for their respective decades.

Today everything is available. Everything. Virtually for free. And these ppl choose ABBA and Yazoo. I love it.

But no Erasure - there is hope yet.

Maybe get out every now and then. I bought the Beatles major albums during college and listened to them regularly. I'm 31 now.

30, no one listens to the Beatles besides the Hipsters. They'll go like Elvis, IMO.

I'm 28 and I love the Beatles (my parents were surprised to learn). Most of my friends enjoy them, or are at least pretty familiar with them, though I couldn't say if they listen to them often.

I also like Chopin.

But I don't get intellectual about either.

"Ringo songs from the early 1970s, while you would never listen to them voluntarily, hold up OK in this context."
Which is the context? People being kidnapped and tied to a chair next to a radio they can turn off? People having a stroke and not being able to move and change the radio station? As in "you would never listen to them voluntarily, but they are the least of your problems right now and let's hope someone come in to complain about the noise and find me here"?

The context being the radio station which apparently Tyler is listening to despite the fact that he thinks he can create a better station using Apple Music.

I feel like the opening scene of blade runner would have been more powerful if Harrison ford's old partner had received #7 as a response from that replicant.

The Richie Haven's Here Comes the Sun is the best. This is unassailable. And of course his Freedom performance at that concert near Oswego is impregnable, just ferocious.

I like this Thiago doppleganger the best.

I am not a doppleganger, I am myself.

Yesterday, on the occasion of the release of the Deluxe Edition of Sgt. Peppers, the topic of overrated major Beatles songs came up in a Twitter discussion. I suppose it depends on how you define it, but I think there's a good argument to be made that Penny Lane is the most overrated, insofar as it's vastly inferior to Strawberry Fields, the song with which it was paired in rock music's most famous "Double A" single.

On the other hand, almost nothing makes me turn down the volume of a radio quite like the opening chords of "Hey Jude." Highly, highly overrated.

I think it's important to reveal conflicts of interest in any discussion of the Beatles, so here's mine: Ringo remains my favorite member.

I used to find "Penny Lane" inferior to "Strawberry Fields Forever," but it's grown on me over the years (that piccolo trumpet!) and I like them both about the same now (around the 90th-to-95th-percentile of best Beatles songs). I'm probably more of a Paul guy all-in-all now, though, so that's my conflict-of-interest disclosure.

That said, "Hey Jude" is also my pick for "most overrated." Its closest competition would be "Nowhere Man," which gets a lot of critical mileage out of being their first not-about-girls song, but I've never found it that enjoyable or interesting, and it further blotches a nearly-perfect record by recycling the "listen/what [I'm/you're] missing" rhyme from the preceding track. (In fairness, I have no idea which song was written first, so maybe Paul copied John rather than vice versa.)

'Would it hurt to play more Dylan'

It always hurts when someone plays more Dylan.

I was going to say the opposite!

Some Dylan is excellent though:

It would be awesome and so unusual if anyone would back up their opinions (which of course they are entitled to have) about what group or song etc., is overrated or underrated (rather than merely stating that it is). In terms of musicality, influence (musical, historical, or cultural or other) or in any other way, such as, quality in relation to a reference of some sort. Such as: a crappy song, crappily played, but hugely influential (Kingsmen version of Louie, Louie) for example. (Actually the Kingsmen version is pretty good. I just couldn't think of a good example--maybe "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians. Actually that wasn't bad either. Anyway, you get the point, I think).

The opinions of average musically uneducated people is a fascinating topic of discussion and study, no doubt, but would be more interesting coming from people who actually knew something about what their opinions are about. if that makes sense.

It seems to be true (as has been noted many times) that people tend to prefer the music they grew up with. You can almost predict a person's age and to a pretty good degree, their personality, from their musical preferences. In addition, what they actually heard/were exposed to when they were between the ages of about 4 and 20. (People also tend to prefer music that they have been frequently exposed to).

Which makes it especially funny is Cowen is the kind of person that can't believe in God because so many people believe what they were raised to believe. As if that doesn't apply to just about every type of preference in life. What we experience in childhood sticks, but Cowen desperate wants to ascribe significance to the accident that the Beatles happened to be big when he was young and had hair.

Tyler has hair.

Yes on his face.

In the secular society that is the US certain popular songs and artists have attained a liturgical status, replacing the common hymns of previous generations. Classic rock station playlists invariably feature a daily dose of at least a couple Doors songs although Jim Morrison has been dead for 46 years. The classic rock genre was at one time cutting edge, original and sometimes shocking. Now it's background music, advertising scores and offends no one.

'The classic rock genre was at one time cutting edge, original and sometimes shocking'

The classic rock genre has never been any of those things. Classic rock is a boomer marketing category, in the end.

'that people tend to prefer the music they grew up with'

Which does nothing to explain why bluegrass grew so popular in Northern Virginia, for a certain value of 'popular.'

Because blue grass music sounds like what they grew up listening to. The fact that preferences coalesce in late adolescence is sufficiently clear to most people that your characteristically opaque comment doesn't do much to debunk it.

Trust me, essentially nobody I knew who enjoyed bluegrass as an adult in Northern Virginia came from Northern Virginia, much less northern Virginia. And I'm guessing that you really don't know all that much about Bill Monroe not sounding like what they grew up listening to.

I do realize that after that whole Birchmere/Seldom Scene thing in NoVa, a lot of other people got acquainted to something that sounded more what like they grew up with instead of bluegrass (styles change and merge, of course - I cannot stand bluegrass, but it was something I heard before going to 1st grade, and not whatever it is considered today). Then there is that whole movie tie-in - including a German bluegrass (ish) band called Dapper Dan Men - - and though they try (the scenes in this video are closer to Virginia than California, in my opinion, but not always obviously - ), really, this isn't the music that anybody growing up off Rt. 9 or Route 15 would precisely recognize.

The best "Here Comes the Sun" is by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

I signed up with XM more than fifteen years ago and was always satisfied with it. From the day they merged with Sirius it started rolling downhill.

"Would it hurt to play more Dylan"? Not only would it hurt it might be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

From the The Art of McCartney album, a 30 second clip of Bob Dylan singing 'Things We Said Today' - to answer Prof. Cowen's 'Would it hurt to play more Dylan, a major influence on the Beatles?' even more definitively.

And yes, I know it is unfair to complain about the end of a real Nobel Prize winner's career, but god that version is awful. There were people that honestly thought that Dylan's Christmas album was a giant joke because it was so, so bad, but that excuse tends to fail when talking about a tribute album that one could imagine McCartney was at least involved in enough to have some say what would, and what would not be included. In other words, yes, this is probably the best Dylan is capable of at this point. Johnny Cash, god rest his soul, is probably debating between giving him some advice in a Christian fashion, or just telling Dylan to shut up.

"I signed up with XM more than fifteen years ago and was always satisfied with it. From the day they merged with Sirius it started rolling downhill."

This is the truest thing I've read today. Virtually all of the music channels are banal and repetitive.

When there is an "All Schubert and Ligeti" station, let me know.

Maybe add "Celer".

And Scelsi.

That's it -- an "All Scelsi and Celer" station! Yummy

And Schnittke and Dufay :-)

I discovered a lot of great older stuff as an adult, and think a lot of old rock and metal is fantastic, but the Beatles just sounds like mediocre pop to me. I understand it was hugely influential for a lot of mediocre pop that came after it, but if you didn't know it was "THE BEATLES!" it just wouldn't stand out.

PT2: It isn't intended to explain anything about bluegrass or North Virginia. It's simply a research result, and it is only a "tendency". Likewise the "mere exposure effect".
The Beatles sound like mediocre pop to KM32 (what pop is not mediocre, KM32?). John Coltrane sounds like random noise to some people. Some people love Taylor Swift. Some people adore the sound of fog horns. Go figure.

'It’s simply a research result, and it is only a “tendency”.'

Of course - but it also tends to ignore reality. Or attempts to create it - it is so difficult to imagine what radion was like in the early 1970s, with regional hits and styles, playlists that happily mixed any number of genres and artists, and a lack of understanding of just how much tendencies could be profitably exploited.

"People start liking classical music in their 40s."

You can get younger people into classical music by showing them how their favorite movie composers (or video games composers) were inspired by the great classical composers.

For instance, showing them how John Williams' Star Wars was influenced by Holst, or Nobou Uematsu and Koji Kondo were influenced by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev.

Most younger people turn away from classical music because classical music enthusiasts reject anything after 1945, which is the "modern classical" music young people grow up with and enjoy the most.

I love these examples as if young kids today are walking around fascinated by the Star Wars score. Clearly some boomers cant even conceptualize a youth experience outside their own.

Yeah, it probably would've been better if he'd mentioned a "modern" composer of the last five years rather than one who did his best work 35 years ago. If a young person is into movie music, he's going to be into a young-gun like Alan Silvestri (Marvel's Avengers), not John Williams.

'as if young kids today are walking around fascinated by the Star Wars score'

Disney has them coming and going - you are familiar with Frozen, right?

Last week in the office us old men were reminiscensing wit Beastie Boys and Chemical Brothers :-)

For what it's worth, my 11 year old would always switch it to the classical channel when we had XM radio. And I don't care about classical at all. He also likes movie music like Star Wars, classical he has discovered through video games (Hall of the Mountain King for example) and Hamilton has been a gateway drug to lots of Broadway. Just maybe there is some amount of innate attraction to quality music, even without the context of what you remember from your formative years. Which is why things stick around.

I don't think Bob Dylan influenced the Beatles very much.

For a twenty year period Elvis was considered super uncool (in fact in Cowen's circle he's probally still seen that way) so a lot of acts that were clearly a heck of a lot more influenced by Presley than Dylan pretended otherwise. Which isn't necessarily to say the Beatles were that influenced by Presley either- but it's why a lot of fans of bands that clearly weren't influenced by Dylan claim that they were.

For all of Dylan's virtues -- and, as a big fan, I don't think those who are turned off by his voice or his mid-60s obscurantism are necessarily "missing" anything -- his influence on The Beatles seems to me quite overrated. The effect of Pet Sounds on Sgt Pepper's is much more discernible (if also overrated) than the effect of Dylan on "Norwegian Wood," which he, however deliberately, ripped off in Blonde on Blonde's "4th Time Around."

If anything, The Beatles succeeded artistically in no small part because they ignored Dylan's influence much more than their peers did: The Rolling Stones (shared source material, if nothing else), The Grateful Dead (ditto), Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds of course, The Doors (blues and Rimbaud), Simon & Garfunkel, even The Velvet Underground (Lou Reed's affectless voice). For his part, and to his credit, Dylan never made a Satanic Majesties, either. After Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's, it was the reactionary anti-psychedelia of John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. So, if anything, the Beatles' influence on Dylan seems more pronounced (albeit negative) than the other way around.

I think Sam's onto something as well, but it seems to me Elvis's prestige has been (justly) eclipsed more by Chuck Berry than by Dylan. "Suspicious Minds" is up there with the best of anyone, though.

Overrated: Let it Be and Hey Jude. I become violent upon hearing.

Underrated: While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Watching The Wheels. Lennon's later works reflect emotional growth that comes with age.

Why you all hating on Let It Be?

I know. It's one of about six Beatles songs that still holds up well.

The Grateful Dead channel makes sense given their vast live recordings. While songs are repeated, it's possible to play a large amount of music and never repeat a version.

Given how little live music the Beatles released, the time between repeats of studio songs would be very short. Also, if I want a Beatles song, the classic vinyl or deep cuts station will probably be playing one in the next half-hour.

So far, I'm not a fan, but that is probably because I expected them to play more actual Beatles songs. There are a lot of Gen X Beatles fans due in Beatlemania and reruns of the cartoons. Finally, there was a radio station in the '80s, I can't remember in which city, that played nothing but Beatles songs.

Minneapolis. It didn't last long.

Dylan deserves his won channel much more than Pearl Jam which has had its own channel for a long time...

Yea every single live bob Dylan performance groans otherwise.

Do not be petty. He is a writer, a Nobel Prize winner even. He can not be judged by how he sounds. Most great Brazilian writers could not speak well. Machado was a stutterer, Erico Verissimo was too laconic and other writers' voices were roo high-pitched.

Big tribalistas fan over here.

Congratualations (they are better than 99% of American music). MPB4, Mutantes, Secos e Molhados and 14 BIS are/were great Brazilian groups, too.

I heard a live version of Maybe I'm Amazed on the radio the other day. First time I'd ever heard it. It was awful. Paul could barely be bothered to sing the words. He kept saying ya instead of you so that he wouldn't have to hold the note. Lots of random vocal noisemaking. I'm gonna guess this is the version you like.

Anyway the Beatles were fully aware of how bad they sounded live, and it's one of the reasons they quit touring.

Wings Over America 1977.

tyler is much more of a simon and Garfunkel guy

No, the Beatles couldn't even hear themselves when they played live, and were fearing for their safety.

7. Tyler once again makes the mistake of extrapolating his own quirkiness to everybody else. I have no problem turning this channel off.

To be fair though, my friends are also not exactly the average listeners, since other groups we commonly listen to include Yazoo and ABBA.

Yes, it would hurt to play more Dylan, because Dylan is terrible.

Who ARE the brain police?

Yeah, why isn't there a Zappa channel? Did any other rocker make as many albums as Zappa?

"No single station on satellite radio is that good"

FWIW, I subscribe to Sirius just for Willie's Roadhouse. Couldn't ask for a better station although it is nice to take a break now and then listen to others. To each their own.

Little Steven's Underground Garage is 1000 times better than the Beatles station.

SiriusXM is worth it to me for the Underground Garage, Deep Tracks, Bluesville, and the Loft. Too many of the other channels are too heavily focused.

The Beatles started going downhill when they stopped playing live. Playing live is the essence of rock and roll, and the self-indulgences of their post-Revolver work show their disconnection; even Abbey Road, IMHO their second-best album after the aforementioned Revolver, has its seriously clunky moments ("Maxwell's Silver Hammer", anyone?).

Overrated: everything after Revolver except maybe "A Day in the Life" and a handful of songs on the white album. Especially overrated: "Let It Be", "Hey Jude". Underrated: "Get Back".

The Yacht Rock station last summer was pretty good and was nixed before it got too repetitive. Margaritaville covers a wide range of other artists - first XM station I've heard play NRBQ - but tends to repeat a lot og JB's material

Underrated and live: Don't Let Me Down from the rooftop concert

"No single station on satellite radio is that good, except for the classical music station"

It's good, but
There's only one (plus opera). Is there really so little demand?
It really makes me appreciate how good WFMT-Chicago is (likely also true of WCRB-Boston and some others).

"A Hard Day's Night" is better live because of Paul's backing vocal.

I'm a Gen-Xer and love the Beatles but don't like actually listening to them very often anymore. Have heard all their music so many times that I feel full.

Someone said people most like the music they heard when young. I don't find this to be true for me. For the most part I don't want to hear what I've heard many, many times. I don't want to hear Kind of Blue again despite and because it is one of my favorite albums.

I like the Beatles but there is no way I want to listen to one band all the time. Just like eating food, too much of one thing gets quickly boring. I can only listen to any one song maybe three or four times a year no matter how much I loved it at first hearing.

There was a Beatles-only AM radio station in Los Angeles in the late 90's

The Beatles are totally overrated and the SiriusXM sucks.

One of the most important, and influential, aspects of the Beatles and Dylan, is that they both did something early that many pop music artists at the time didn't understand. They wrote nearly all of their own songs after their first couple of LPs. The addition of royalties paid to them as composers to the royalties paid to them as performers, had a tremendous impact on the economics of being a pop musician.

This is, of course, the reason why so much bad "original" music has been recorded since then, but it was far less common for pop musicians (with the exception of some jazz musicians) to write most of their their own songs.

I believe the station is slightly tilted toward Paul McCartney and his later work. I would like to hear more George Harrison solo work and his Traveling Wilbury work. John Lennon and Ringo Starr have their share of solo work represented. Other wise the only thing I would say is that they play too much early work(1964 and before) for my tastes. After 1964 they started to grow musically.

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