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 America “Maybe 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?